Coronavirus spread now a global emergency declares World Health Organization

UN News/Jing Zhang Passengers wear face masks while riding the subway in Shenzhen, China.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The rise in new coronavirus cases outside China, now constitutes a global health emergency, the World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee declared on Thursday, calling on all countries to take urgent measures to contain the respiratory disease.

Latest WHO figures state there are more than 7,800 confirmed cases globally, with 7,736 confirmed in China, and a further 12,167 suspected cases inside the country where the outbreak began in Wuhan, a city of around 11 million which remains in lockdown.

Latest figures

So far, 170 people have died in China, and 1,370 cases there are officially described as severe. A total of 124 have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

Outside China, there are 82 confirmed cases, in 18 different countries, and only seven had no history of travel in China.

“There has been human-to-human transmission in three countries outside China”, according to a statement released by WHO’s Emergency Committee. “One of these cases is severe and there have been no deaths.”

When the committee met last week, there were “divergent views” on whether the outbreak which began last month, constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), but the expert body convened by the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was in agreement on Thursday.

Chinese leadership welcomed

“The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China, but what is happening in other countries”, said the WHO chief, praising the “extraordinary measures” taken there by authorities.

“China quickly identified the virus and shared its sequence, so that other countries could diagnose it quickly and protect themselves, which has resulted in rapid diagnostic tools”, said the statement from the Committee.

With concern rising that less developed countries will be more vulnerable, China has agreed to work internationally, with others who need support and “the measures China has taken are good not only for that country, but also for the rest of the world”, the statement added.

However, there remain “many unknowns”, the Committee warned, concerning the speed and spread of the epidemic.

Virus can be contained

“The Committee 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.”

Mr. Tedros tweeted following the meeting: “We must remember that these are people, not numbers. More important than the declaration of a public health emergency are the committee’s recommendations for preventing the spread…and ensuring a measured and evidence-based response.”

Travel and trade should continue

He said there was there was “no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent. WHO stands ready to provide advice to any country that is considering what measures to take.”

The Committee said evidence has shown that restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies “may be ineffective and may divert resources from other interventions.

“Further, restrictions may interrupt needed aid and technical support, may disrupt businesses and may have negative effects” on the economies of those countries affected.

Advice to China:

The Committee is advising China to:

  • continue to implement a “comprehensive risk communication strategy”, regularly informing the population on developments. Public health measures need to be enhanced to contain the virus, and the resilience of the health system ensured, while health-workers are protected.
  • Enhance surveillance and active case finding.
  • Collaborate with WHO and partners to investigate and understand the spread and evolution of the disease.
  • Share full data on all human cases.
  • Strengthen the efforts to identify the animal-to-human source of the infection, and “particularly the potential for ongoing circulation with WHO as soon as it becomes available.”
  • Exit screening at international airports and ports, for early detection.

Other countries

“Countries are reminded that they are legally required to share information with WHO” now the health emergency is officially declared, said the Committee.

Despite encouraging countries not to impose blanket restrictions on trade and travel, “in certain specific circumstances, measures that restrict the movement of people may prove temporarily useful, such as in settings with limited response capacities and capabilities, or where there is high intensity of transmission among vulnerable populations.”

WHO is calling for greater support for low- and middle-income countries, to support their reponse to any cases, and allow them access to vaccines and drugs, as well as better surveillance and diagnostic tools.          

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Sexual abuse of elderly likely to ‘grow dramatically’, UN expert says

EU-Vietnam: Council adopts decisions to sign trade and investment agreements

Afghanistan: UN ‘unequivocally condemns’ attack in Kabul

The European Union and Central Asia: New opportunities for a stronger partnership

More than half a million Rohingya in Bangladesh get ID cards for first time: UN refugee agency

MEPs back update of rail passenger rights across EU

This top-10 of business risks misses the biggest of them all: climate change

New UN bullying report calls for ‘safe, inclusive’ schools for all children

To build the workforce of the future, we need to revolutionize how we learn

These are the cities where people work the longest hours

ILO: Progress on gender equality at work remains inadequate

ECB to support only banks not Peoples

The remote doctor in the 21st century

Quality Education on the table at the European Parliament

EU budget 2021-2027: Commission calls on leaders to set out a roadmap towards an autumn agreement

UN-backed intercultural dialogue forum urged to keep working to ‘bridge gap between the like-minded’

Schools must look to the future when connecting students to the internet

Yemen: UN Envoy ‘guilty’ of optimistic hope that war is ‘nearing the end’

How public private partnerships must evolve to create social impact

The EU Commission openly repudiates the austere economic policies

How one traumatised child survived genocide and started a movement for mental health

Take medical use of cannabis seriously, say MEPs

‘Save Tuvalu; save the world’; UN chief echoes rallying cry from front lines of global climate emergency

INTERVIEW: Poverty, education and inclusion top new General Assembly President’s priority list

Mediterranean migrant drownings should spur greater action by European countries, urge UN agencies

Is Europe misjudging its abilities to endure more austerity and unemployment?

France sneaks into the Geneva US-Iran talks to claim its business share in Tehran

During the coronavirus pandemic, we must fight for LGBTQ rights more than ever

Here’s how China is going green

‘Critical’ window of opportunity closing fast in Iraq, Security Council hears

COVID-19: How leaders can create a new and better normal

Businesses are thriving, societies are not. Time for urgent change

EU makes key TTIP document public as protests get louder

This is how New York plans to end its car culture

How smart tech helps cities fight terrorism and crime

Effective multilateralism the antidote to today’s ‘divisions’, Holy See tells UN Assembly

Building an Inclusive ICT Innovation Ecosystem

Stability in Europe has no chances because of Ukraine

Venezuelan exodus to Ecuador reaches record levels: UN refugee agency steps up aid

Indonesia is buzzing with entrepreneurial spirit. And others in ASEAN aren’t far behind

Crime and drugs in West and Central Africa: Security Council highlights ‘new alarming trends’

UN warns of ‘deteriorating climate’ for human rights defenders in Guatemala

EU and India re-open talks over strategic partnership while prepare for a Free Trade Agreement

Your smartphone may know more about your mental health than you

‘Air bridge’ vaccination operation begins for Ebola-hit communities in DR Congo

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Poverty report reveals ‘vast inequalities’, measles compounds DRC Ebola woes, Guterres visits Mozambique, Bangladesh update, freedom of expression online

FROM THE FIELD: facing up to the extreme mental health pressures of conflict

Those who produce food are among world’s hungriest – UN rights expert

Economy on a steady rise in Latin America and Caribbean region ‘despite international turbulence’ – UN report

Parliament adopts new rules for short-stay visas

Britain’s poet laureate has created a prize to highlight poetry about the climate crisis

Collective action now, the only way to meet global challenges, Guterres reaffirms in annual report

UN experts warn Assange arrest exposes him to risk of serious human rights violations

MEPs adopt new Fisheries Partnership with Morocco including Western Sahara

Guinea President Alpha Condé: “We must tackle the root causes of migration”

Migrants: ‘A powerful driver’ of economic growth, ‘dynamism and understanding’

MWC 2016 LIVE: Mobile Connect availability hits 2B

Commission reports on the risks of investor citizenship and residence schemes in the EU and outlines steps to address them

How to build a paradise for women. A lesson from Iceland

Iran: BBC and other broadcast journalists harassed; families threatened – UN experts

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s