WHO Declares Coronavirus Global Emergency As Death Toll Rises

0Shares

GENEVA – The World Health Organization declared a global emergency over the new coronavirus, as China reported Friday the death toll had climbed to 213 with nearly 10,000 infections.

The UN health agency based in Geneva had initially downplayed the threat posed by the disease, but revised its risk assessment after crisis talks.

“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva on Thursday.

“We must all act together now to limit further spread… We can only stop it together.”
Tedros nevertheless said travel and trade restrictions with China were unnecessary to stem the spread of the virus, which has spread to more than 15 other countries.

Many countries have already urged their citizens not to visit China, while some have banned entry for travellers from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus first surfaced.

The US reported its first case of a person catching the virus from another person on American soil — a man in Chicago who contracted the illness from his wife, who had travelled to Wuhan.

Airlines began cancelling flights servicing China on Wednesday, and more followed suit on Thursday.

Israel barred all flights from China, while Russia said it was closing its far eastern border with China over the outbreak.

More than 6,000 tourists were temporarily put under lockdown aboard a cruise ship at an Italian port after two Chinese passengers were isolated over fears they could be carrying the virus. They later tested negative for the illness.

Beijing has taken extreme steps to stop the spread of the virus, including effectively quarantining more than 50 million people in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.
The government on Thursday reported 38 new deaths in the preceding 24 hours, the highest one-day total since the virus was detected late last year.
On Friday, the government reported 43 new deaths, bringing the total to 213.

All but two of the confirmed deaths on Thursday and Friday were in Hubei.

The National Health Commission said there were 1,982 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to just under 10,000.
Another 102,000 people were under medical observation with possible symptoms of the respiratory ailment.

The pathogen is believed to have emerged in a market that sold wild game, and spread during a Lunar New Year holiday season in which hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home or abroad.

Thousands of foreigners have been trapped in Wuhan since it was sealed off last week.
Japan and the United States on Wednesday became the first countries to organise airlifts from Wuhan for their citizens. A second US flight is planned in the coming days.

Britain was planning an evacuation of around 200 of its citizens early Friday, after receiving the necessary clearance from Beijing.

A French plane also left Wuhan on Friday, according to an AFP journalist on board the flight.
Australia and New Zealand were among others organising similar operations.

Tokyo on Thursday reported that three people who were aboard the first evacuation flight had tested positive for the virus after landing back in Japan.

Two of the three infected passengers showed no symptoms, underscoring the difficulty detecting the coronavirus.
Compounding fears, Japan was allowing the arrivals — more than 400 have been repatriated after a second flight on Thursday — to “self-quarantine”.

In contrast, other countries organising evacuations said they were all planning to quarantine.
The virus is similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pathogen. That outbreak also began in China and eventually killed nearly 800 people worldwide in 2002-03.

Major airlines that have suspended or reduced service to China include British Airways, German flag carrier Lufthansa, American Airlines, KLM and United.

Chinese efforts to halt the virus have included the suspension of classes nationwide and an extension of the Lunar New Year holiday.
All football matches across the country also will be postponed, the Chinese Football Association said on Thursday, including games in the top-tier Chinese Super League.

World stock markets tumbled again Thursday on fears that trouble in the “world’s factory” would upset global supply chains and dent profits.

Toyota, IKEA, Starbucks, Tesla, McDonald’s and tech giant Foxconn were among the corporate giants temporarily freezing production or closing large numbers of outlets in China.
Volkswagen announced Thursday its China joint-venture plants would not start production again before February 9.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the coronavirus posed a fresh risk to the world economy.

Throughout China, signs of paranoia multiplied, with residents of some Beijing residential compounds erecting makeshift barriers to their premises.

In one of many similar photos posted online, a man wearing a surgical mask and brandishing a traditional martial arts weapon squatted on a barricade outside a Chinese village, near a sign saying: “Outsiders forbidden from entering”.

The crisis has caused food prices to spike, and the central government on Thursday blamed this partly on overzealous preventive measures, issuing a directive banning any roadblocks or other hindrances to food shipments.

Nations should avoid ‘overreaction’, says China

As the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency, China has said all countries should behave in a “responsible” manner and avoid overreaction that may result in more negative spillover effects.

China informed the WHO about the coronavirus cases in late December. The death toll in China’s novel coronavirus outbreak on Friday climbed to 213 with the number of confirmed cases totalling to 9,692.

The WHO said there had been 98 cases in 18 other countries, but no deaths. Most international cases are in people who had been to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic.

“We are still at a very critical stage in fighting the coronavirus. International solidarity is extremely important and for that purpose all countries should behave in an appropriate and responsible manner, China’s Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters here, Zhang said while Beijing understands the concerns of other countries over the outbreak, “we should also listen to the advice” of the Director General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who has said that he “has full confidence in China’s efforts to combat the outbreak.

Zhang said that “there is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade” and the WHO doesn’t recommend limiting trade and movement.

The Chinese envoy added that under the current circumstances, the world needs solidarity in combating the outbreak. He stressed that all countries should adopt a responsible attitude, work together to combat the virus, and avoid “overreaction that may result in spillover negative effects.

He also added that we are still making our assessment of the WHO declaration.

WHO’s Emergency Committee, declaring the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency, called on all countries to take urgent measures to contain the respiratory disease.

The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China, but what is happening in other countries,” said the WHO chief, praising the “extraordinary measures” taken there by authorities.

China quickly identified the virus and shared its sequence, so that other countries could diagnose it quickly and protect themselves, which has resulted in rapid diagnostic tools,” said the statement from the Committee.

According to a press release issued by the Chinese Mission to the UN, Zhang reiterated that the WHO DG clearly stated that the main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but about protecting countries with weaker health systems and which are ill-prepared to deal with potential spread.

He said WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak and the Director-General’s recommendations should be seriously considered.

The US issued a ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory for China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Do not travel to China due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. On January 30, the World Health Organisation has determined the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China, the advisory said.

Last week, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency US personnel and their family members from Wuhan.

Be Part of Quality Journalism

Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.

ACT NOW
MONTHLYRs 100
YEARLYRs 1000
LIFETIMERs 10000

CLICK FOR DETAILS


Agencies

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

KO SUPPLEMENTS