The World Health Organisation has declared Coronavirus outbreak which has infected more than 8,000 people across the world, a global health emergency. Since it was first reported in China’s Wuhan city, the highly contagious virus has killed more than 200 people in China and spread to at least 18 countries, as per a latest report.
WHO, world’s top health body has made the announcement hours after the United States confirmed its first human to human transmission of the virus.
“Over the past few weeks we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen that has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference at the organization’s Geneva headquarters on Thursday. “We must act together now to limit the spread.”
“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems and which are ill-prepared to deal with it,” Tedros said.
Since emerging less than a month ago in Wuhan, China, the coronavirus has caused the death of 213 people in the country – 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.
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 including Swine flu, polio, and Zika.