WHO to Decide if Coronavirus Is Global Health Emergency
A village committee member stops a car for checking as he guards the entrance of a community amid China’s battle against a new coronavirus, in Tianjiaying village, outskirts of Beijing, China, Jan. 29, 2020.
UNITED NATIONS – The chief of the World Health Organization says it will decide Thursday whether to declare the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency.
The WHO said last week that the outbreak did not meet that threshold, but that was before the number of confirmed cases reached 6,000.
FILE – The logo of the World Health Organization is seen at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The continued increase in cases and evidence of human-to-human transmission outside China are, of course, deeply concerning, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at WHO headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday, a day after he visited Beijing. Although the numbers outside China are relatively small, they hold the potential for a much larger outbreak.
Several countries have evacuated their nationals from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the outbreak. International airlines have suspended direct flights to China.
Tedros said 99% of the 6,000-plus confirmed cases were in China. Fifteen other countries have confirmed 68 cases. As of Wednesday, 132 deaths have been reported, all in mainland China.
The number of new coronavirus cases now exceeds those of the 2002-03 SARS epidemic that killed 800 people worldwide. Tedros praised Beijing for its response.
A police car is seen at a closed terminal before the arrival of an aircraft bringing government employees and other Americans from the coronavirus threat in Wuhan, China, at an airport in Anchorage, Alaska, Jan. 28, 2020.
China’s efforts to contain the outbreak at the epicenter have been essential for preventing the further spread of the virus, he said. China identified the pathogen in record time and shared it immediately, which led to the rapid development of diagnostic tools.
President Donald Trump was briefed on the outbreak by those he called the “great agencies” working with China.
“We will continue to monitor the ongoing developments. We have the best experts anywhere in the world and they are on top of it 24/7,” he tweeted late Wednesday.
The White House said it was considering further restrictions on U.S. airlines’ flights to China, in addition to the voluntary restrictions by some air carriers. It has not yet decided whether to impose a travel ban.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said none of the 195 U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan showed symptoms of coronavirus infection. They will remain at a U.S. military base in California at least through the end of the week.
The CDC said the risk to Americans was low. The agency was working with the WHO to get a U.S. team to China as soon as possible.
Source: Voice of America