• Today
    September 20

  • 03:05 AM

Coronavirus declared an emergency in China

REUTERS,

Added 24 January 2020

coronavirus-in-hong-kong

Children wear masks to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus at the Hong Kong West Kowloon High Speed Train Station, in Hong Kong, China January 23, 2020. (Reuters)

GENEVA/BEIJING – The World Health Organisation (WHO) called a new coronavirus that has killed 18 people in China and infected around 650 globally “an emergency in China” on Thursday, but stopped short of declaring the epidemic of international concern.

Chinese state television said 634 cases had been confirmed so far. China’s National Health Commission said there had been 17 deaths as a result of the virus in Hubei, the province at the centre of the outbreak, and health authorities confirmed the first Chinese death outside Hubei.

Non-fatal cases have been found in at least seven other countries.

Health officials fear the transmission rate could accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for the Lunar New Year, which begins on Saturday.

Nonetheless, it was a “bit too early” to consider the outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” WHO Emergency Committee panel chair Didier Houssin said after the body met in Geneva. Such a designation would have required countries to step up the international response.

“Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“It has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one,” he said.

Scrambling to contain the outbreak, the local government in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in Hubei province, suspended most transport on Thursday, including outgoing flights, and people were told not to leave. Hours later, neighbouring Huanggang, a city of about 7 million people, announced similar measures.

“The lockdown of 11 million people is unprecedented in public health history,” said Gauden Galea, the WHO’s representative in Beijing.

The organisation said, however, that it was not yet recommending any broader restrictions on travel or trade.

The previously unknown virus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan.

It has created alarm because there are a number of unknowns surrounding it. It is too early to know just how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people.

There is no vaccine for the virus, which can spread through respiratory transmission. Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing and coughing.

Michael Ryan, head of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said data from China suggested almost three-quarters of the cases were in people aged over 40, with some 40 per cent having underlying health conditions. (Reuters)

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Dos and Donts


Welcome to our discussion forum here on nationnews.com. We encourage lively debate, but we also urge you to take note of the following:

  • Stay on topic – This helps keep the thread focused on the discussion at hand. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.
  • Be respectful – Meeting differences of opinion with civil discussion encourages multiple perspectives and a positive commenting environment.
  • Do not type in capitals – In addition to being considered “shouting” it is also difficult to read.
  • All comments will be moderated – Given the volume of comments each day, this may take some time. So please be patient.
  • We reserve the right to remove comments – Comments that we find to be abusive, spam, libellous, hateful, off-topic or harassing may be removed.
  • Reproduction of comments – Some of your comments may be reproduced on the website or in our daily newspapers. We will use the handle, not your email address.
  • Do not advertise – Please contact our Advertising Department.
  • Contact our Online Editor if you have questions or concerns.
  • Read our full Commenting Policy and Terms of Use.
comments powered by Disqus

POLL

Instead of an announcement via the Throne Speech, should Barbadians decide via referendum whether the country becomes a republic?

Yes
No

FRONT COVER OF TODAY'S NEWSPAPER

CARTOON

INSTAGRAM