WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has declared coronavirus as a global health emergency. He said in his press conference that “the main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries.”
He said the organisation’s main concern is that it could spread to countries with weaker health systems. At the time the American government has also told its citizens not to travel to China. They have issued a level four warning urging Americans to “reconsider” travel to China and said any citizens in China “should consider departing using commercial means.”
Reports coming in from China suggests that at least 213 people have died and almost 10,000 people are affected by the virus. WHO has informed that there had been 98 cases reported among 18 other countries, but no deaths. Most of the international victims had travelled to Wuhan in the past few weeks.
This will be the sixth time WHO has declared an international emergency for a disease outbreak in the past decade. It has also called for an acceleration in efforts to develop vaccines and treatments and stressed that support is to be given to countries with weak health systems which might not be able to cope with the virus.
Dr Tedros described the virus as an “unprecedented outbreak” that has been met with an “unprecedented response” during the news conference in Geneva. Despite the declaration WHO is not recommending any restrictions on travel or trade at this time.
“Let me be clear, this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China,” the doctor said.
Since its emergence in last month the novel coronavirus has quickly infected around 10,000 people just in China. If the disease were to be exposed to countries with weaker health system the effects could be catastrophic. It won’t be easy containing the virus if it were to reach such a nation. The new declaration will allow WHO to support such countries in their disease surveillance.