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WHO declares public health emergency for n coronavirus

Last Updated Feb 10, 2020 at 5:04 pm PDT

Summary

WHO made the declaration to stop the spread of the virus

It says it is confident in China's capacity to control the virus

There are concerns about the virus spreading to countries with weaker health systems

GENEVA (NEWS 1130) — The World Health Organization has declared a public health emergency for the new coronavirus Thursday.

In order to control the outbreak of the virus, WHO made the declaration, but it says it is confident in China’s ability to control the illness.

WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the organization is working diligently with public health partners internationally and nationally to control the virus as quickly as possible.

“As you know, I was in China just a few days ago, where I met with President Xi Jinping. I left in absolutely no doubt about China’s commitment to transparency, and to protecting the world’s people,” he says.

The organization has not recommended any restrictions on travel or trade.

Ghebreyesus expressed concern about the virus spreading to countries where health systems are ill-prepared.


“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,” he says. “We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility.”

213 people have died in China from. The latest figures for mainland China show 9,692 confirmed cases.

So far, there are three cases confirmed in Canada and cases have been found in more than a dozen other countries.

China extended its Lunar New Year holiday to Sunday to try to keep people home, but the wave of returning travelers could potentially cause the virus to spread further.

“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 of the virus and ensuring a measured and evidence-based response,” Ghebreyesus says. “This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumours. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.”

In comparison, the SARS virus killed about 10 per cent of people who caught it. The new virus is from the coronavirus family, which includes those that can cause the common cold as well as more serious illnesses such as SARS and MERS.

With files from the Associated Press