Official: Wuhan Coronavirus is Declared a Global Health Emergency

The World Health Organization declared the Wuhan coronavirus a global health emergency.

Coronavirus declared global emergency by World Health Organisation.

Surprisingly, this did not happen earlier, given the global reach of the disease, which is now being reported by various international media organizations.

There are already 8,200 people infected worldwide and the fact that the WHO has put the issue in that state means that international agencies and policies can release monetary funds to contain the pandemic.

The news of the first infections began less than a month ago and in one week the topic has become the main topic of the press around the world.

The case is reminiscent of SARS in 2003, where the Chinese government hid the real magnitude of the issue until it was too late. In this case, it seems, action have been taken relatively quickly.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international emergency for the new strain of coronavirus (2019-nCov), which emerged in Wuhan, China, and has already claimed 171 lives and infected more than 8,000 people, 98 of them outside China, in one month.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement at a press conference from Geneva after participating in the last meeting of the emergency commission. 

We do not know what kind of damage 2019-nCoV could cause if it were to be expanded to a country with a weaker health system. We must act now to prepare for that possibility, Ghebreyesus said.

Declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), the official name of the measure, does not mean that there is distrust in the Chinese government, according to the official statement: It should be understood as part of a spirit of support and appreciation for China, its people and China's actions in the first line of defense against this outbreak, carried out with transparency and hopefully with success. 

According to the committee, the declaration aims to achieve a coordinated global effort to contain the virus.

Today, the U.N. Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) released a statement analyzing the current situation of the coronavirus outbreak. 

It calls on countries to share information, devote resources to strengthening their health systems and support the WHO financially "with voluntary contributions to the WHO Emergency Fund.

Last year, the GPMB warned in its annual report of the importance of countries getting ready for the growing possibility of a pandemic. 

"For too long we have allowed a cycle of panic and neglect with pandemics: we increase efforts when there is a serious threat and quickly forget them when the threat weakens," says the document's prologue.

Past emergencies

In the last decade, five diseases were declared as international emergencies by the WHO.

Swine flu.
The 2009 swine flu pandemic killed an estimated 284,500 people, according to an international group of scientists, although a 2012 study by the Lancet Infectious Diseases magazine said the figure could have been as high as 579,000.

Ebola in West Africa.
An Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia between 2013 and 2016 killed at least 11,300 people, more than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined. Such was the impact that it cost these three countries an estimated $53 billion.

Pakistan's polio cases increased from 58 in 2012 to 93 in 2013, more than one-fifth of the global total of 417. Pakistan was unable to stop the spread of the disease and comprehensive measures were implemented there, as well as in Syria and Cameroon.

Zika had spread to more than 60 countries since the outbreak was identified in Brazil in 2015. By November 2016, when WHO declared the end of the Zika emergency, some 2,300 cases of babies born with microcephaly had been reported worldwide, mostly in Brazil.

Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
As of 14 January last year, 3406 cases of Ebola were reported in the Congo, including 2236 deaths, in the outbreak declared in August 2018 which, according to WHO, is likely to cost around $1 billion by the time it is stopped.