The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) in view of significant increases in numbers of cases and additional countries reporting confirmed cases.
In China, more than 7,700 cases have been confirmed and 170 people have died. There are now 82 additional cases confirmed in 18 countries. Of these, seven had no history of travel to China. Human-to-human transmission has been reported in three countries outside China. One of these cases is severe but there have been no deaths.
The decision follows a meeting of the WHO Emergency Committee yesterday (Thursday 30 Jan). The Committee concluded that a coordinated global effort is needed to enhance preparedness. The organisation is expected to provide intensified support to vulnerable countries and regions as well as facilitating the rapid development and access to potential vaccines, diagnostics, antiviral medicines and other therapeutics for low- and middle-income countries.
The WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restriction based on the current information available.
The Emergency Committee will be reconvened within three months or earlier, at the discretion of the Director-General.