Global emer­gency de­clared over virus

Antelope Valley Press - - SECOND FRONT - By MARIA CHENG and JAMEY KEATEN

GENEVA — The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion de­clared the out­break sparked by a new virus in China that has spread to more than a dozen coun­tries as a global emer­gency Thurs­day af­ter the num­ber of cases spiked more than ten­fold in a week.

The U.N. health agency de­fines an in­ter­na­tional emer­gency as an “ex­tra­or­di­nary event” that con­sti­tutes a risk to other coun­tries and re­quires a co­or­di­nated in­ter­na­tional re­sponse.

China first in­formed WHO about cases of the new virus in late De­cem­ber. To date, China has re­ported more than 7,800 cases in­clud­ing 170 deaths. Eigh­teen other coun­tries have since re­ported cases, as sci­en­tists race to un­der­stand how ex­actly the virus is spread­ing and how se­vere it is.

Ex­perts say there is sig­nif­i­cant ev­i­dence the virus is spread­ing among peo­ple in China and have noted with con­cern in­stances in other coun­tries — in­clud­ing the United States, France, Ja­pan, Ger­many, Canada, South Korea and Viet­nam — where there have also been iso­lated cases of hu­man-to-hu­man trans­mis­sion.

Speak­ing to re­porters in Geneva,

WHO di­rec­tor-gen­eral Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus noted the wor­ri­some spread of the virus be­tween peo­ple out­side China.

“The main rea­son for this dec­la­ra­tion is not be­cause of what is hap­pen­ing in China but be­cause of what is hap­pen­ing in other coun­tries,” he said. “Our great­est con­cern is the po­ten­tial for this virus to spread to coun­tries with weaker health sys­tems which are ill-pre­pared to deal with it.”

“This dec­la­ra­tion is not a vote of non-con­fi­dence in China,” he said. “On the con­trary, WHO con­tin­ues to have the con­fi­dence in China’s ca­pac­ity to con­trol the out­break.”

A dec­la­ra­tion of a global emer­gency typ­i­cally brings greater money and re­sources, but may also prompt ner­vous gov­ern­ments to re­strict travel and trade to af­fected coun­tries. The an­nounce­ment also im­poses more disease re­port­ing re­quire­ments on coun­tries.

In the wake of nu­mer­ous air­lines can­celling flights to China and busi­nesses in­clud­ing Star­bucks and McDon­ald’s tem­porar­ily clos­ing hun­dreds of shops, Te­dros said WHO was not rec­om­mend­ing lim­it­ing travel or trade to China.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

This il­lus­tra­tion pro­vided this­month by the Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion ishows the 2019 Novel Coro­n­avirus (2019nCoV). This virus was iden­ti­fied as the cause of an out­break of res­pi­ra­tory ill­ness first de­tected in Wuhan, China.

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