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[2019-Novel Coronavirus] WHO still discussing whether to declare public health emergency
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2020.01.23 16:08
  • Updated 2020.01.24 10:16
  • comments 0

The World Health Organization will continue discussing whether or to declare the growing viral pneumonia outbreak, known as the 2019 new coronavirus, in China to be a public health emergency of international concern.

"There was an excellent discussion during the meeting today, but it was also clear that to proceed, we need more information," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference after the Emergency Committee meeting. "The decision is one I take extremely seriously and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence."

The committee will meet again on Thursday to discuss more evidence from its teams on the ground, the WHO chief added.

According to the WHO, the emergency meeting was held to advise the director-general on whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and what recommendations should be made to manage it.

The outbreak has infected about 540 people until now and killed more than 17, all in its originating province of Hubei, China.

The WHO's emergency committee met as the outbreak is spreading internationally, following the confirmation of patients in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and, most recently, the U.S.

In South Korea, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) raised its alert level from "blue" to "yellow" on Tuesday after reporting the first confirmed case of a new coronavirus broken out in Wuhan, China.

According to the KCDC epidemiological survey, one out of 11 suspected patients with Wuhan pneumonia was confirmed as of 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, while seven patients were negative, and the remaining three are undergoing testing.

Also, three additional suspected cases have occurred since Monday.

The KCDC is running a central preventive service task force and expanded the operation of a 24-hour emergency response system by strengthening the patient monitoring, management, and diagnosing suspected cases.

The municipal and provincial governments also plan to run local preventive service task forces and 24-hour emergency response systems to reinforce patient monitoring patients and management of contact in local communities during the lunar New Year's holidays.

The KCDC stressed that cooperation from civilians and medical communities is crucial for the early detection and the prevention of infection of the virus.

Meanwhile, the city of Wuhan shut down all air and train traffic to try to contain its spread and have asked people not to leave Wuhan without specific reasons.

"To reduce the spread of the virus, the Wuhan local government canceled all flights and trains from the city for Thursday and temporarily closed all public transportation – bus, subway, ferry, and long-distance bus service," the Xinhua News Agency, China's state-run news agency, reported.


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