As the number of cases of novel coronavirus rises, the World Health Organization (WHO) take stock of the situation and declare an emergency.
Cases of novel coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, first appeared in the city of Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province. Since the initial reports in December 2019, it has spread to a number of countries.
Authorities have also confirmed cases of the virus in Thailand, Australia, Nepal, France, and Japan. In total, there have been 98 cases in 18 countries other than China.
Of these cases, eight have involved human-to-human transmission; these occurred in Japan, Germany, Vietnam, and the U.S.
According to the WHO, the “vast majority” of cases outside of China developed in people who had either traveled from Wuhan or contacted someone who had made that trip.
As of Thursday, 170 people have died as a result of the virus, and every death occurred in China.
In yesterday’s briefing, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, congratulated China for the swift and transparent way that the country has handled this outbreak. He explained that “In many ways, China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response.”
Dr. Ghebreyesus continued, “Thanks to their efforts, the number of cases in the rest of the world so far has remained relatively small.”
The WHO are confident that China is doing all that it can to contain the virus. The organization’s primary concern is that the virus might spread to countries that do not have robust health systems, which could be catastrophic.
For this reason, they have decided to declare a “public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of novel coronavirus.”
“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.”
– Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
To date, there have been 7,834 reported cases of 2019-nCoV — and 99% of these occurred in China.
The WHO rounded off their briefing with seven points of summary; they call on countries to:
- implement “evidence-based and consistent” decisions
- support other countries with less robust health systems
- boost the development of ways to diagnose and treat the virus and vaccinate for it
- fight against misinformation and rumors
- review preparedness and look for gaps in resources
- “share data, knowledge, and experience with WHO and the world”
- work together in a spirit of accord
The final lines of the briefing, while relevant for the current outbreak, also ring true more widely:
“This is the time for facts, not fear.
This is the time for science, not rumors.
This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.”