Coronavirus Spreads to 8 Countries as WHO Delays Declaring International Emergency

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SWITZERLAND, JANUARY 24 – The outbreak of a new deadly coronavirus in China is not yet a global health emergency, said director-general of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. It was, however, an emergency in China, he added.

Ghebreyesus was speaking after WHO’s emergency committee met for a second day on Thursday to debate the epidemic but were divided over whether or not to declare it an emergency.

Prof Didier Houssin, the chair of the emergency committee, said it was “too early” to consider it a “public health emergency of international concern” which would have designated the epidemic a serious global public health event.

The international organisation said they could reconvene the committee if the situation changes.
China has widened its travel restrictions in Hubei province – the centre of the coronavirus outbreak – as the disease spreads to 8 countries and death toll climbed to 26. The countries affected include Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, South-Korea and United States.

The restrictions in China will affect at least 20 million people across 10 cities, including the provincial capital, Wuhan, where the virus emerged.

On Thursday, a coronavirus patient died in northern Hebei province – making it the first death outside Hubei.

Another death was later confirmed in north-east Heilongjiang province.

The province borders Russia and is more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) from Wuhan.

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