The novel coronavirus spreading throughout China and the rest of the world has finally been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization.
WHO made the announcement Thursday, setting in motion the global cooperation needed to combat the public health emergency of international concern.
“It is expected that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country,” WHO warned.
“Thus, all countries should be prepared for containment,” it said, “including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoV infection, and to share full data with WHO.”
This declaration comes as the coronavirus outbreak, which now bears the official interim name of “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease,” continues to infect thousands more every day in the epicenter of China.
Although the communist country has attempted to quarantine its way around this outbreak, the virus’ ability to infect others during its incubation period rendered this largely ineffective.
The virus has been reported to be able to kill people without even giving them a fever — a symptom many checkpoints rely on to identify the infected.
There is speculation that the virus is so contagious that it can even enter through the unprotected eye.
In its declaration of emergency, WHO revealed the latest data from the Chinese government, which paint a grim picture. Remember, just last week China reported only a few hundred infected.
This number has increased more than tenfold, to nearly 20,000, despite the country’s massive quarantine.
“There are now 7,711 confirmed and 12,167 suspected cases throughout [China],” the WHO news release states. “Of the confirmed cases, 1,370 are severe and 170 people have died. 124 people have recovered and been discharged from hospital.”
It’s uncertain how much of this is due to human-to-human transmission, an increasingly worrying problem with the outbreak.
This method of transmission was discovered in the United States the same day WHO made its emergency announcement.
“Previously, all confirmed U.S. cases had been associated with travel to Wuhan, China, where an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by this novel coronavirus has been ongoing since December 2019,” a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention news release said.
CDC confirmed the first US case of person-to-person spread of #2019nCoV in a patient who had close contact w/ a traveler previously diagnosed. While the virus is not spreading widely here, it’s likely that more US cases of #2019nCoV will be reported. https://t.co/qhticS4L77 pic.twitter.com/PLXsLfNrrE
— CDC (@CDCgov) January 30, 2020
“However, this latest 2019-nCoV patient has no history of travel to Wuhan, but shared a household with the patient diagnosed with 2019-nCoV infection on January 21, 2020.”
The CDC insists that risk to the American public is still low.
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