WHO declares coronavirus outbreak a global emergency

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As the deadly coronavirus continues to spread outside of China, with 7,800 confirmed cases, and 170 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO), on Friday declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.

The WHO’s major reason for the declaration was because of the spread of the illness to other countries, including those “with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it”.

The WHO had previously declared widespread diseases like Swine flu (2009), Polio (2014), Ebola (2014 and 2018), and Zika (2016), as international public health emergencies. The latest is the coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who made the declaration during a press conference about the WHO’s Emergency Committee meeting on coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, said: “I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of 2019-nCoV.

“There have now been more than 7,800 confirmed cases, and 170 deaths. We must remember that these are people, not numbers.

“To the people of China and to all of those around the world who have been affected by this outbreak, we want you to know that the world stands with you. We are working diligently with national and international public health partners to bring this outbreak under control as fast as possible”.

The novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, and was first reported to the WHO on the 31st of December, 2019. It has spread across Asia, US, Australia, Europe and the Middle East.

Code named 2019-nCoV, the new coronavirus portrays common signs like respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Its infections start off much like many other less dangerous diseases. It can take about a week before an infected person feels sick enough to seek medical care.

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