WHO declares global public health emergency over coronavirus outbreak

30 January 2020, 21:32 | Updated: 30 January 2020, 21:36

The WHO have declares the outbreak a global emergency
The WHO have declares the outbreak a global emergency. Picture: PA

The World Health Organisation's emergency committee has declared a global public health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak.

Health experts made the announcement on Thursday evening following a meeting of the WHO emergency committee in Geneva.

Declaring the emergency, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, said: "In total, there are now 7834 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 7736 in China, representing almost 99% of all reported cases worldwide.

"170 people have lost their lives to this outbreak, all of them in China," he said.

Dr Ghebreyesus said the WHO will be urgently working to support countries with weaker health systems.

"We are working diligently with national and international public health partners to bring this outbreak under control as fast as possible," he added.

He said the declaration "is not a a vote of no confidence in China" and the WHO "continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak".

The declaration is defined by the WHO as "an extraordinary event" that "constitutes a public health risk to other states through the international spread of the disease", and potentially requires "a coordinated international response".

It also allows the WHO to issue travel advice for cities, regions and countries, as well as reviewing each country's public health response to ensure proper standards are met.

170 patients have died from coronavirus in China
170 patients have died from coronavirus in China. Picture: PA

There are now 7711 confirmed and 12167 suspected cases of coronavirus in China.

Of the confirmed cases, 1370 are severe and 170 people have died. However, 124 people have recovered and been discharged from hospital, according the Chinese officials.

Eighteen other countries have since reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

Earlier on Thursday the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the first case human-to-human transmission in the US.

The WHO's Emergency Committee will meet again in either three months or possibly earlier.