WHO Committee Declines To Declare Novel Coronavirus International Public Health Emergency Citing Limited Spread Outside China

Devex: Novel coronavirus outbreak ‘not yet’ a global health emergency — Tedros
“The novel coronavirus outbreak, or 2019-nCoV, that has infected over 800 people is an emergency in China, but not yet for the rest of the world, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said late Thursday as he announced his decision not to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern…” (Ravelo, 1/24).

New York Times: Coronavirus Is Spreading, but WHO Says It’s Not a Global Emergency
“…Although the disease has reached beyond China, the number of cases in other countries is still relatively small, and the disease does not seem to be spreading within those countries, agency officials said. … The committee weighing the decision was divided, its chairman, Dr. Didier Houssin, said during the briefing. Some members felt the course of the outbreak warranted an emergency declaration now, but others said it that was too soon to decide, citing the limited number of cases in countries outside China as well as the country’s efforts to contain the virus…” (Grady, 1/23).

STAT: WHO declines to declare China virus outbreak a global health emergency
“…Tedros said the world should be ready for additional cases and an evolution in the outbreak and that he could reconvene the emergency committee as circumstances changed. ‘It could be in a day, it could be in a couple, it could be any time,’ he said. The committee did recommend that WHO send an international mission of experts to China to assist the country’s investigation and response. Tedros accepted that suggestion, but China has to agree to it before a team can go…” (Joseph, 1/23).

U.N. News: Coronavirus: ‘An emergency in China, but not yet a global health emergency’
“…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. The committee made a number of recommendations regarding measures to control the outbreak. Its members advised WHO to provide information to the international community via an international multidisciplinary operation, in order to enhance understanding of the situation and its public health impact…” (1/23).

Additional coverage of the committee’s decision is available from AP, Bloomberg, CNN, NBC, Science, Science Speaks, and USA TODAY.

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