WHO Declares China Coronavirus is a Global Health Emergency

By Ryan Gandolfo, January 31, 2020

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On Thursday, the second meeting of the Emergency Committee was convened by WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus regarding China’s novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, with the committee agreeing that the outbreak now meets the criteria of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The announcement acknowledges that the spread of the disease represents a risk outside of China, with 18 other countries already having confirmed cases. The PHEIC was declared as cases of people who had not traveled to the PRC have appeared, The New York Times reports.

The US has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory on all China travel as the outbreak persists. Airlines in three separate continents have suspended some flights to and from the PRC, with British Airways, Royal Dutch Airlines and American Airlines reducing their number of China flights, while Lufthansa Group and Austrian Airlines have canceled their flights to Shanghai and Beijing until February 9. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has also reduced its number of flights to and from the Chinese mainland, and is offering passengers refunds for China flights.

In addition to suspended flights, Russia declared the country will close its 4,000-kilometer border with China to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The committee has issued temporary recommendations for the WHO, China and all other countries to combat the outbreak. To read to recommendations laid out by the Emergency Committee, click here.

As of 8.09am on January 31, there were 9,720 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in China and 213 dead. The total number of confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV has now surpassed the number of cases from the SARS outbreak in 2003. It’s worth noting that the fatality rate of 2019-nCoV is around 2%, lower than the 9.6% case-fatality ratio during the SARS outbreak.

For our updated coverage on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), click here.

[Cover image: screengrab via Weibo]

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