Last Updated on January 31, 2020

WHO declares Coronavirus Global Emergency

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak sparked by the coronavirus in China as a global emergency on Thursday. This came after the number of cases spiked more than tenfold in a week, while the death toll rose to 213.

China’s health commission reported on Friday that the confirmed cases of coronavirus have reached 9,692.

Another 102,000 people were also reportedly under medical observation with possible symptoms of the respiratory ailment.

The UN health agency defines an international emergency as any extraordinary event that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

China first informed WHO about cases of the new virus in late December. Eighteen other countries have since reported cases while scientists’ race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

Experts say there is substantial evidence the virus is spreading among people in China and have noted with concern instances in other countries – including the United States, France, Japan, Germany, Canada, South Korea and Vietnam – where there have also been isolated cases of human-to-human transmission.

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Speaking to reporters in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted the worrisome spread of the virus between people outside China.

He said that the main reason for the declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries.

He further explained that WHO greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it.

WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak and the declaration is not a vote of non-confidence.

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