Coronavirus death toll at 213; WHO declares global health emergency

31 January 2020 (Last Updated February 13th, 2020 10:38)

As of the end of 30 January, the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has reached 213, and the number of infected cases soared to 9,776.

Coronavirus death toll at 213; WHO declares global health emergency
WHO declared coronavirus outbreak as a public health emergency. Credit: U.S. Mission Geneva / Eric Bridiers.

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As of the end of 30 January, the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak reached 213, and the number of infected cases soared to 9,776.

While hundreds of people are affected by the coronavirus every day, some infected patients are also recovering after undergoing treatment for their symptoms. A total of 187 people have recovered so far.

To date, 22 countries outside China have confirmed infected cases, with the Philippines, India and Italy joining the list reporting their first cases of coronavirus infection on 30 January.

Coronavirus a public health emergency: WHO

Following a meeting on 30 January, an emergency committee by the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

WHO first convened on 22 January but postponed its decision to 23 January after the emergency committee members expressed split opinions on the outbreak’s emergency status.

During its second meeting on 23 January, the committee decided the situation was too early to declare a PHEIC. Since then, the number of coronavirus deaths and infections continued to surge, gradually spreading to different parts of the world.

In the latest discussions, the committee reviewed the outbreak’s severity, agreeing that it now calls for a PHEIC.

A statement from WHO read: “The committee believes that it is still possible to interrupt virus spread, provided that countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts, and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk.

“It is important to note that as the situation continues to evolve, so will the strategic goals and measures to prevent and reduce spread of the infection.”

More: Five recent global health emergencies declared by the WHO

WHO recommendations to combat coronavirus

The WHO committee provided temporary recommendations to combat the outbreak and highlighted the need for identifying the animal source of the coronavirus.

It also called for improved observation outside Hubei to gain further insights into possible local cycles of transmission.

Furthermore, the committee noted the need for the development and access to potential vaccines, diagnosticsantiviral drugs and other therapeutics for low and middle-income countries.

Previous global health emergencies by WHO

Previously, WHO declared H1N1, Poliovirus, Ebola and Zika outbreaks as public health emergencies of international concern.

H1N1 was the first PHEIC declared by WHO in 2009, followed by Poliovirus and Ebola in 2014, Zika in 2016, while the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo was declared in 2019.

As of 21 January, a total of 3,416 Ebola cases were reported, including 3,297 confirmed and 119 suspected cases. A total of 2,238 people died due to the latest Ebola virus disease outbreak, representing a 66% overall case fatality ratio.

WHO reported 35 new Ebola confirmed cases in 2020 (between 01 January to 21 January) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Read death toll update of 30 January here.