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WHO Declares The Coronavirus A Public Health Emergency

After a World Health Organization emergency committee meeting took place on Thursday in Geneva, it was declared that the coronavirus outbreak would be recognised as a public health emergency of international concern.

Prior to the organizations most recent meeting, WHO had refused to believe that the virus constituted the emergency declaration.

However, the increasing number of cases paired with the evidence of person-to-person transmission in a handful of cases outside of China led to the committee being recalled.

“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday. 

“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.”

According to WHO a public health emergency of international concern is “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and could “potentially require a coordinated international response.”

Committee chairman Dr. Didier Houssin said the decision to recommend the declaration to WHO leadership was almost unanimous especially due to the manner in which “some countries have taken questionable measures concerning travelers.”

Houssin said that declaring the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern would allow WHO to better coordinate the international response and hold nations to account if they overstep the organization’s standards — which may pertain to travel, trade, quarantine or screening.