With more than 7700 confirmed cases,170 people dead across all regions of China and 82 other additional cases confirmed in 18 countries, the World Health Organisation says, Coronavirus has become a global health emergency.
In a Statement at the end of the second meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), convened by the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus he said, “This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.”
Although WHO leaders urged countries not to restrict travels or trade to China, as some countries were already shutting down borders and limiting visas but described the outbreak of Coronavirus a global health emergency and acknowledged the risk posed by the raging virus to all countries where it has spread to beyond its origin in China.
The Emergency Committee in the meeting convened by teleconference believes that it is still possible to interrupt virus spread, provided that countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts, and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk.
They noted that as the situation continues to evolve, there is need for strategic goals and measures to prevent and reduce spread of the infection.
The Committee agreed that the outbreak now meets the criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and proposed the following advice to be issued as Temporary Recommendations.
They emphasized that the declaration of a PHEIC should be seen in the spirit of support and appreciation for China, its people, and the actions China has taken on the frontlines of this outbreak, with transparency, and, it is to be hoped, with success.
In line with the need for global solidarity, the Committee felt that a global coordinated effort is needed to enhance preparedness in other regions of the world that may need additional support for that.
Representatives of the Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China reported on the current situation and the public health measures being taken.
According to China Health Ministry, there are now 7711 confirmed and 12167 suspected cases throughout the country. Of the confirmed cases, 1370 are severe and 170 people have died. 124 people have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
The virus can cause severe cases of pneumonia and milder cases of cough and fever, according to studies of early infections in Wuhan. It’s likely that authorities have not been able to keep track of many mild cases, including people who were not sick enough to seek care, and researchers have documented cases of the virus in people showing no symptoms.
It’s not clear if people need to be showing symptoms to pass the virus on, though even if asymptomatic people can spread the virus, they may be less likely to than people who are sneezing and coughing — routes for the virus to jump from one person to another.