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Health officials check body temperatures of flyers arriving from Wuhan on Wednesday. (Photo: AP)
Health officials check body temperatures of flyers arriving from Wuhan on Wednesday. (Photo: AP)

WHO wants to study Coronavirus before declaring it as a public health emergency

  • The multi-lateral health agency will meet again to deliberate on the same
  • The novel Coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China, on 31st December

NEW DELHI : The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday decided not to declare the outbreak of novel Coronavirus in China as a public health emergency of international concern at this point in time. The multi-lateral health agency will meet again to deliberate on the same.

Members of the WHO Emergency Committee held discussions until late on Wednesday and said they want to study the situation further before declaring an international emergency.

“There was an excellent discussion during the committee today, but it was also clear that to proceed, we need more information", WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence."

The novel coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China, on 31st December. As of Wednesday, there have been more 440 confirmed cases, and 17 reported deaths, almost doubling the death toll in the space of one day, according to the United Nations (UN).

The deaths have all been reported in Wuhan which has a population of around 8.9 million, equivalent to that of London, the UK capital.

According to reports, Chinese authorities have reportedly urged people to stop travelling, going as far as to temporarily shut down public transport, but have acknowledged that efforts to curtail the outbreak will be made more difficult by the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, which sees hundreds of millions criss-crossing the country visiting relatives.

“On Wednesday, the Chinese city of Macau reportedly confirmed its first case of Novel Coronavirus, and there have been cases in Thailand, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the US," the UN has said.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. The latest outbreak is that of a new, unknown form of pneumonia.

India till Wednesday had screened over 9,150 passengers of 43 flights for coronavirus at seven airports. India’s union health ministry has written to all states and union territories to review their preparedness, identify gaps and strengthen core capacities needed to prepare for, detect and respond to possible outbreaks.

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