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January 24, 2020updated 13 Feb 2020 10:30am

Coronavirus: Not international health emergency, says WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has decided that the new coronavirus outbreak is not currently an international health emergency.


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The World Health Organization (WHO) has decided that the new coronavirus outbreak is not currently an international health emergency.

Originally scheduled on 22 January, the meeting was postponed until 23 January. During the meeting on Thursday, members of the emergency committee noted that the situation is too early to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The Committee will reconvene in around ten days based on the status of the outbreak.

In a statement, WHO said: “In the face of an evolving epidemiological situation and the restrictive binary nature of declaring a PHEIC or not, WHO should consider a more nuanced system, which would allow an intermediate level of alert.

“Such a system would better reflect the severity of an outbreak, its impact, and the required measures, and would facilitate improved international coordination, including research efforts for developing medical countermeasures.”

The decision comes at a time when the death toll due to the coronavirus increased to nearly 25, with 830 infected. A university student in Texas, US, who travelled to Wuhan and under treatment for respiratory illness, is being tested for the virus.

If tested positive, this will be the second case in the US. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a level 3 warning and advised travellers to avoid all nonessential travel to Wuhan.

Following reports that nearly 30 nurses from Kerala remained quarantined in a Saudi Arabia hospital, the Saudi Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clarified in a tweet that no cases of the coronavirus were identified.

Nurses working at the Al-Hayat Hospital were reportedly quarantined after one was found to be infected. India’s Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan tweeted that 100 Indian nurses working at the hospital were screened and one of them tested positive.

However, the Indian Consulate in Jeddah said that while the nurse had been infected with MERS-CoV, it was not the new Wuhan strain.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that China’s new coronavirus could lead to a universal outbreak and issued warnings to hospitals.

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