Coronavirus: WHO’s emergency committee reconvenes on Thursday to reconsider Emergency Declaration

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
The World Health Organization’s emergency committee will meet on Thursday, the third time in a week, to evaluate whether the new coronavirus spreading from China constitutes an international emergency, the WHO said.

“The committee will advise the director general on whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), and what recommendations should be made to manage it,” the WHO said in a statement issued in Geneva before a news briefing by senior WHO expert Mike Ryan on his return from China.

The emergency committee, composed of 16 independent experts, twice last week declined to declare a global emergency. But today, the WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who recently returned from a trip to China, tweeted that he would reconvene the committee to discuss whether such a declaration was now warranted.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus(@DrTedros)
I have decided to reconvene the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on the new #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) tomorrow to advise me on whether the current outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

The official death toll in China from coronavirus has risen to 132, with 5,974 cases confirmed, overtaking the number of people infected in the mainland by the Sars epidemic in 2002-3.

The rapidity of this outbreak is startling and certainly much more rapid than Sars. The reasons for this are unclear, but clearly the larger the outbreak grows the more difficult it becomes to contain it using usual infection control measures – identifying then isolating infected people and tracing and monitoring their contacts, said Prof Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology, University of Nottingham.

The World Health Organisation’s emergencies chief says China is taking “extraordinary measures in the face of an extraordinary challenge” because of the virus outbreak, the Associated Press reports.

Dr Michael Ryan said the epidemic remains centred in the city of Wuhan and in Hubei province but that information is being updated and is changing by the hour. Many of those affected experience only a mild illness and estimated that the death rate is at about 2%, he said. The death rate for SARS, a related virus, was about 10%.

However, the few instances of the new virus spreading between people in countries beyond China, including Germany, are of great concern, Ryan added. He said that is part of the reason why the UN health agency’s director-general has reconvened a coronavirus expert committee to meet Thursday. It will assess whether the outbreak should be declared a global emergency.

Ryan made his comments to reporters on Wednesday after returning from a trip to Beijing to discuss the new virus with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior government leaders.

To date, about 99% of the nearly 6,000 cases are in China.

No comments

Poster Speaks

Poster Speaks/box