New Chinese Virus Not Yet a Global Health Emergency


There have been around 300 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Asia and six deaths as of Tuesday.

WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that "more information" was needed, but he also praised China's "very, very strong measures" that would help control the epidemic and "minimize the chances of this outbreak spreading internationally".

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV, the novel coronavirus, have been reported to include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The US, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan have all confirmed cases, while four suspected sufferers are being tested in Scotland.

"Make no mistake. This emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency", he said after the meeting in Geneva. When WHO made its last emergency declaration in July, related to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo, the Congolese health minister resisted the characterization and suggested the decision was made to raise funds "for certain humanitarian actors". Chinese health officials warned it could mutate and spread further. "It has not been tried before as a public health measure".

Jonathan Ball, a professor of virology at molecular virology at the University of Nottingham in Britain, said the lockdowns appear to be justified scientifically.

She said situation was being closely monitored, adding: "I should say, that the risk to the public here in Scotland - and indeed the United Kingdom - is now classified as low but that is kept under review".

Cutting off travel and trade with a country dealing with an outbreak is viewed as unlikely to stop disease spread and is likely to discourage countries from being transparent about outbreaks.

But Ball cautioned that any such quarantine should be strictly time-limited. "Otherwise you will lose the goodwill of the people".

In 2014, World Health Organization resisted declaring the devastating Ebola epidemic in West Africa to be a global emergency because it feared the announcement would anger Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Frustrated residents complained of food shortages.

"But if they came from Wuhan", he noted, "it's likely to be the new coronavirus". Local authorities demanded all residents wear masks in public places and urged civil servants wear them at work.

The city is home to around seven million people. Trucks carrying supplies into the city are not being restricted, although many Chinese recall shortages in the years before the country's recent economic boom.

Estimates put the probable number of cases in the thousands worldwide.

Chinese authorities gave no new details on the numbers of virus infections but it has been reported in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Some experts believe the virus is not as unsafe as the one that caused the 2002-03 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which also began in China and killed almost 800 people, or the one that caused Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has killed more than 700 people since 2012. Health authorities believe that the virus was first contracted through an animal - perhaps a snake, according to researchers.

Concerns about the virus extend beyond health to its impact on the economy, with warnings that China's fragile stabilization could be at risk.

The market was closed down earlier this year, but images taken at the market prior to its closure show all manner of exotic meat on offer.