Dhaka, Bangladesh
Health emergency for China, not world yet

WHO on Coronavirus epidemic

Health emergency for China, not world yet

GENEVA, Jan 24: The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that it was "too early" to declare the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), while warning that the number of cases may rise as many about the virus remain unknown, reports Xinhua. "I am not declaring a public health emergency of the international concern today. As it was yesterday, the Emergency Committee was divided over whether the outbreak of novel coronavirus represents a PHEIC or not," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference after a closed-door meeting of the Emergency Committee (EC). "Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China. But it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one," Tedros said, adding that WHO's risk assessment is that the outbreak is a very high risk in China, and a high risk regionally and globally. "I wish to reiterate that the fact I am not declaring a PHEIC today should not be taken as a sign that WHO does not think the situation is serious, or that we are not taking it seriously," the WHO chief said. The UN health agency extended its Emergency Committee discussions on whether to declare a PHEIC from Wednesday to Thursday. The PHEIC is defined by the WHO as an extraordinary event that is determined to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response. Tedros said that 584 cases have now been reported to WHO, including 17 deaths. A total of 575 of those cases and all of the deaths have been reported in China, with other cases reported in Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. Tedros said China has taken measures it believes appropriate to contain the spread of coronavirus in Wuhan, where the virus appears to have originated, and other cities, and WHO hoped that they will be both effective and short in their duration. He thanked the Chinese government for its cooperation and transparency. The government has been successful in isolating and sequencing the virus very quickly and has shared that genetic sequence with the WHO and the international community. Reuters adds: China stepped up measures to contain a virus which has killed 25 people and infected more than 800, with public transport suspensions in 10 cities, temples shutting, and the rapid construction of a new hospital to treat those infected. China stepped up measures to contain a virus that has killed 25 people and infected more than 800, suspending public transport in 10 cities, shutting temples over the Lunar New Year, and rushing to construct a hospital to treat the infected. The week long holiday to welcome in the Year of the Rat began on Friday, raising fears that the infection rate could accelerate as hundreds of millions of people travel to their homes and abroad. The risks persuaded Shanghai Disneyland theme park to close from Saturday until further notice.

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