Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

WHO Declares Global Health Emergency as Coronavirus Cases Confirmed in 18 Countries

Health + Wellness
WHO Declares Global Health Emergency as Coronavirus Cases Confirmed in 18 Countries
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (R), flanked by World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme head Michael Ryan (L), speaks after a WHO Emergency committee to discuss the coronavirus on Jan. 30, 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Amid reports that the strain of coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China has now spread to 18 countries, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on Thursday.


WHO held an emergency committee meeting to discuss the respiratory disease, called 2019-nCoV by global health experts, which has spread from person-to-person in at least five countries, including China, Germany, Japan, Vietnam, and the U.S.

"There are now 98 2019-nCoV cases in 18 countries outside China," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO.

"We don't know what sort of damage this 2019-nCoV virus could do if it were to spread in a country with a weaker health system. We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility," he added. "For all of these reasons, I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of 2019-nCoV."

Watch:

Following the declaration, countries will be required to follow more stringent disease reporting guidelines. More funding and resources are expected to be released to fight the outbreak.

China has reported more than 7,700 cases of the disease and 170 deaths. So far, there have been no deaths from the disease outside of China.

On Thursday, the first human-to-human transmission case was confirmed in the U.S., where at least six people have been sickened. A man in the Chicago area reportedly contracted the coronavirus from his wife, who had recently returned from Wuhan.

Tedros emphasized that all but seven coronavirus cases outside China have been detected in patients who recently traveled to Wuhan.

On Thursday, Russia closed its 2,600-mile border with China to stop the transmission of the virus.

WHO said at its meeting that while countries should be prepared for containment and isolation of patients with confirmed coronavirus cases, restricting movement may have limited benefits and many drawbacks for the global population.

"Evidence has shown that restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies may be ineffective and may divert resources from other interventions," the organization said. "Further, restrictions may interrupt needed aid and technical support, may disrupt businesses, and may have negative effects on the economies of countries affected by the emergencies."

Tedros also praised the Chinese government for its swift detection and reporting of the outbreak.

"We would have seen many more cases outside China by now — and probably deaths — if it were not for the government's efforts, and the progress they have made to protect their own people and the people of the world," the director-general said.

Ninety-nine percent of the coronavirus cases have been in China, and the disease has a 2% death rate as of Thursday. The number of cases has surpassed the cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that were reported during an outbreak in 2002 and 2003.

Other global health organizations pledged to work in cooperation to help fight the spread of the illness, while health professionals worked to combat the spread of misinformation about coronavirus on social media.

"This is the time for facts, not fear," tweeted Tedros. "This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

Yogyakarta Bird Market, Central Java, Indonesia. Jorge Franganillo / CC BY 2.0

By John R. Platt

The straw-headed bulbul doesn't look like much.

It's less than a foot in length, with subdued brown-and-gold plumage, a black beak and beady red eyes. If you saw one sitting on a branch in front of you, you might not give it a second glance.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Red Knots are among the shorebirds that a scientific study is tracking. BrianEKushner / Getty Images

By Julián García Walther

One morning in January, I found myself 30 feet up a tall metal pole, carrying 66 pounds of aluminum antennas and thick weatherproofed cabling. From this vantage point, I could clearly see the entire Punta Banda Estuary in northwestern Mexico. As I looked through my binoculars, I observed the estuary's sandy bar and extensive mudflats packed with thousands of migratory shorebirds frenetically pecking the mud for food.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The Great Barrier Reef at Whitsunday Island, Australia. Daniel Osterkamp / Getty Images

The world's oceans and coastal ecosystems can store remarkable amounts of carbon dioxide. But if they're damaged, they can also release massive amounts of emissions back into the atmosphere.

Read More Show Less
For World Wildlife Day, seven "Champions of Nature" shared their picks for books that motivate them. Sam Edwards / Getty Images

By Kimberly Nicole Pope

During this year's Davos Agenda Week, leaders from the private and public sectors highlighted the urgent need to halt and reverse nature loss. Deliberate action on the interlinked climate and ecological crises to achieve a net-zero, nature-positive economy is paramount. At the same time, these leaders also presented a message of hope: that investing in nature holds the key to ensuring economic and social prosperity and resilience.

Read More Show Less
Protesters are seen during a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC on June 1, 2017. Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

While some mainstream environmental organizations welcomed Tuesday's introduction of the CLEAN Future Act in the House of Representatives, progressive green groups warned that the bill falls far short of what's needed to meaningfully tackle the climate crisis—an existential threat they say calls for bolder action like the Green New Deal.

Read More Show Less