WHO says 'too early' to declare public health emergency on coronavirus outbreak in China

Updated: Jan 24, 2020, 13:54 IST | ANI | Geneva

Twenty-five people have been killed after developing pneumonia-like symptoms and at least 830 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in China by the end of Thursday

People wearing protective facemasks to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in the city stand outside the Wuhan Fifth Hospital in Wuhan. Pic/ AFP
People wearing protective facemasks to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in the city stand outside the Wuhan Fifth Hospital in Wuhan. Pic/ AFP

Geneva: The World Health Organistion (WHO) on Thursday said that it was 'too early' to declare the outbreak of coronavirus in China as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). The WHO made this decision during the second meeting of the International Health Regulations (IHR) on Thursday. Twenty-five people have been killed after developing pneumonia-like symptoms and at least 830 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in China by the end of Thursday. Out of 25 deaths, 24 deaths were reported in Hubei Province, while one took place in Hebei Province, Xinhua reported.

"I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern today. As it was yesterday, the Emergency Committee was divided over whether the outbreak of novel coronavirus represents a PHEIC or not," Xinhua quoted WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference after a closed-door meeting of the Emergency Committee, as saying.

"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.

Chinese state-media agency has reported that so far 34 cases of coronavirus have been cured and discharged following treatment. The deadly virus has originated from the city of Wuhan in the month of December and since then cases have been reported in the United States and several Asian cities other than China, including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand. Meanwhile, the second confirmed case of coronavirus has been reported in Japan, reported Sputnik.

The authorities in Wuhan city and Huanggang city have imposed a complete travel ban on local residents, in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly virus. The ban issued by command authority in the city said that from 10:00 am on Thursday, urban buses, subways, ferries and long-distance passenger transport would be suspended in the city. Flights and trains departing from Wuhan will also be suspended.

Countries have started screening process in order to prevent the outbreak of the virus in their respective country. India also on Thursday said that people coming from the Asian country will have to mandatorily go through a screening process at airports in India.

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