WHO declares global emergency as China's coronavirus outbreak toll reaches 213; about 100 cases reported in a minimum of 18 other countries thus far
Shanghai: The price in China from the new coronavirus reached 213 on Friday, with overall cases worldwide rising rapidly in an epidemic that the planet Health Organization (WHO) declared a worldwide health emergency.
The price in Hubei, the Chinese province at the centre of the epidemic, had risen to 204 and there have been 9,692 cases of infection nationally as of Thursday, Chinese health authorities said. About 100 cases are reported in a minimum of 18 other countries, with no deaths outside China.
Even as the WHO said cases had spread to 18 countries, Italy announced its first confirmed cases, in two Chinese tourists.Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the govt had decided to shut all traffic between Italy and China, a more drastic measure than most countries have undertaken.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said the organization “doesn’t recommend - and truly opposes” restrictions on travel or trade with China.
Nonetheless, foreign governments are flying home their citizens from Hubei and holding them in quarantine, while airlines including Air France, American Airlines and British Airways have stopped flying to China .
Airlines face mounting pressure by cabin crew to prevent all flights thanks to unease about exposure to the virus.
Stocks round the world have tumbled on fears of the economic fallout from the outbreak within the world’s second-biggest economy.
Lockdown in Wuhan
Some 60 million people in Hubei province live under virtual lockdown.
There had been an extra 1,220 cases detected in Hubei by end of Jan. 30, taking the entire for the province to shut to six ,000, Hubei’s health commission said.
Tedros praised China’s response during a press conference in Geneva on Thursday evening but said the WHO was declaring a worldwide health emergency because it had been concerned about the virus spreading to countries that didn't have the resources to affect it.
“The main reason for this declaration isn't due to what's happening in China but due to what's happening in other countries. Our greatest concern is that the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems,” he said.
The WHO move will trigger tighter containment and information-sharing guidelines to all or any countries but may disappoint Beijing, which had expressed confidence it can beat the “devil” virus.
China’s UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, said Beijing was assessing the declaration.
“We are still at a really critical stage in fighting the coronavirus. International solidarity is extremely important and for that purpose, all countries should behave during a ... responsible manner,” Zhang said.