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Coronavirus declared Global Health Emergency by WHO

The new coronavirus has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization, as the outbreak continues to spread outside China.
 
“The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The concern is that it could spread to countries with weaker health systems.
 
Meanwhile, the US has told its citizens not to travel to China.
The State Department issued a level four warning - having previously urged Americans to “reconsider” travel to China - and said any citizens in China "should consider departing using commercial means”.
 
At least 213 people have died in China — mostly in Hubei province where the virus emerged - with almost 10,000 cases nationally. The WHO said there had been 98 cases in 18 other countries, but no deaths. Most international cases are in people who had been to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began.
 
However, there have been eight cases of human-to-human infection - in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the United States.
Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, Dr Tedros described the virus as an “unprecedented outbreak” that has been met with an “unprecedented response”.
 
He praised the “extraordinary measures” Chinese authorities had taken, and said there was no reason to limit trade or travel to China. “Let me be clear, this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China,” he said. 
 
But various countries have taken steps to close borders or cancel flights, and companies like Google, Ikea, Starbucks and Tesla have closed their shops or stopped operations.
 
How unusual is this declaration?
 
The WHO declares a Public Health Emergency of International Concern when there is “an extraordinary event which is determined… to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease.”
 
It has previously declared five global public health emergencies:
 
  •  Swine flu, 2009 -The H1N1 virus spread across the world in 2009, killing more than 200,000 people
  • Polio, 2014 - Although closer than ever to eradication in 2012, polio numbers rose in 2013
  • Zika, 2016 - The WHO declared Zika a public health emergency in 2016 after the disease spread rapidly through the Americas
  • Ebola, 2014 and 2019 - The first emergency over the virus lasted from August 2014 to March 2016 as almost 30,000 people were infected and more than 11,000 died in West Africa. A second emergency was declared last year as an outbreak spread in DR Congo.
 
How is China handling the Outbreak?
 
A confirmed case in Tibet means the virus has reached every region in mainland China. According to the country’s National Health Commission, 9,692 cases have tested positive.
 
The central province of Hubei, where nearly all deaths have occurred, is in a state of lockdown. The province of 60 million people is home to Wuhan, the heart of the outbreak. The city has effectively been sealed off and China has put numerous transport restrictions in place to curb the spread of the virus.
 
People who have been in Hubei are also being told to work from home until it is considered safe for them to return. The virus is affecting China’s economy, the world’s second-largest, with a growing number of countries advising their citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to the country.
 
India’s First Coronavirus Case confirmed in Kerala
 
India reported its first case of novel Coronavirus, putting the focus on the extent of preparedness in the world’s second-most populous nation to deal with a virus that has wreaked havoc in neighbouring China and is spreading swiftly across the world.
 
An Indian student of Wuhan University in China tested positive in Kerala, the health ministry said. Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China, is the epicentre of the outbreak. But, the infection has spread to all 31 provinces of China, killing 170 people and infecting another 7,711. Across the world, it has been reported in 21 countries, including India.
 

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