The head of the World Health Organization Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus has declared that the respiratory disease Novel Corona virus is not yet an official Public Health Emergency of International Concern. He, however, warned that the disease is an emergency in China.
The declaration came after two days of deliberations, in which the WHO Emergency Committee remained divided on whether to declare the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
The disease has spread rapidly to several countries including Japan, Singapore and the United States of America, and Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said in a press conference held in Geneva that the outbreak poses a very high risk in China.
According to the World Health Organisation, 584 cases have now been reported, including 17 deaths. 575 of the reported cases were in China, while the other were in Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United States of America and Vietnam, with further possible cases being investigated in other countries; among them, The United Kingdom.
The WHO chief acknowledged that there are still many unknown factors about the disease.
“We don’t know the source of this virus. We don’t understand how easily it spreads and we don’t fully understand its clinical features or severity… But we know that among those infected, one-quarter of patients have experienced severe disease and that it can kill. We know that most of those who have died had underlying health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease, that weakened their immune systems.
The WHO chief warned, that the agency’s decision should not be taken as a sign that it is doing nothing adding that the WHO is following the outbreak “every minute of every day,” at a country, regional and global level, to prevent human to human transmission.
He added that the WHO is working with the partner’s in China and the other affected countries at the regional level, and at the headquarters in Geneva, to fill the gaps in the knowledge as quickly as possible.
Ghebreyesus says that the health agency has also provided guidance to all countries for the rapid identification, management and containment of the virus based on the sequence from China.
A statement released by WHO soon after the press conference, noted that the Committee members agree on the urgency of the situation, and suggested the Committee should be reconvened “in a matter of days” to examine the situation further.
All countries, recommends the Committee should be prepared to contain the virus, through active surveillance, early detection, isolation, case management, and prevention of onward spread of infection, and to share full data with WHO.
A coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in the nose, sinuses, or upper throat. At the moment, there is no vaccine for the virus.
~From Uganda Radio Network