Coronavirus declared global health emergency by World Health Organisation
Coronavirus has officially been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation. Health experts made the announcement on Thursday evening following a meeting of the WHO emergency committee in Geneva, Switzerland. They confirmed there are now 98 cases in 18 countries outside China, while there have been eight involving human-to-human transmission in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the US. It comes as British medical officers increased the risk level in the UK from low to moderate tonight. TOP ARTICLES 2/5 READ MORE Schoolboy on climate hunger strike ‘won’t eat until new coal mine is scrapped’ Around 150 UK citizens are due to be brought back from a flight leaving the Chinese epicentre, Wuhan, at 7am local time on Friday (11pm Thursday UK time). Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom, said that despite the ‘extraordinary’ efforts made by China to contain the outbreak, the virus has ‘escalated’ in an unprecedented’ fashion.
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus confirmed the news (Picture: Reuters)
‘Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak, and which has been met by an unprecedented response,’ he said. ‘As I have said repeatedly since my return from Beijing, the Chinese government is to be congratulated for the extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak, despite the severe social and economic impact those measures are having on the Chinese people. ‘We would have seen many more cases outside China by now – and probably deaths – if it were not for the government’s efforts, and the progress they have made to protect their own people and the people of the world.’ He added: ‘I also offer my profound respect and thanks to the thousands of brave health professionals and all frontline responders, who in the midst of the Spring Festival, are working 24/7 to treat the sick, save lives and bring this outbreak under control.’ At least 170 people have died from the virus in China, while thousands have been infected, however there have so far been no deaths outside of the country – something Mr Adhanom said we ‘must all be grateful’ for. ‘Although these numbers are still relatively small compared to the number of cases in China, we must all act together now to limit further spread,’ he added. ‘The vast majority of cases outside China have a travel history to Wuhan, or contact with someone with a travel history to Wuhan. We don’t know what sort of damage this virus could do if it were to spread in a country with a weaker health system. We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility. ‘For all of these reasons, I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of coronavirus.’