Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Health + Wellness
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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Dr. Mark Brunswick (2R), Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality, walks through the lab at Sorrento Therapeutics in San Diego, California on May 22. ARIANA DREHSLER / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Ries

Around the world, there have been several cases of people recovering from COVID-19 only to later test positive again and appear to have another infection.

Read More Show Less

By Samantha Hepburn

In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 — Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance.

Read More Show Less
Meadow Lake wind farm in Indiana. Anthony / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tara Lohan

The first official tallies are in: Coronavirus-related shutdowns helped slash daily global emissions of carbon dioxide by 14 percent in April. But the drop won't last, and experts estimate that annual emissions of the greenhouse gas are likely to fall only about 7 percent this year.

Read More Show Less
Andrey Nikitin / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Adrienne Santos-Longhurst

Plants are awesome. They brighten up your space and give you a living thing you can talk to when there are no humans in sight.

Turns out, having enough of the right plants can also add moisture (aka humidify) indoor air, which can have a ton of health benefits.

Read More Show Less
A bald eagle chick inside a nest in Rutland, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
A bald eagle nest with eggs has been discovered in Cape Cod for the first time in 115 years, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (Mass Wildlife), as Newsweek reported.
Read More Show Less
The office of Rover.com sits empty with employees working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 in Seattle, Washington. John Moore / Getty Images

The office may never look the same again. And the investment it will take to protect employees may force many companies to go completely remote. That's after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations for how workers can return to the office safely.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Frederic Edwin Church's The Icebergs reveal their danger as a crush vessel is in the foreground of an iceberg strewn sea, 1860. Buyenlarge / Getty Images

Scientists and art historians are studying art for signs of climate change and to better understand the ways Western culture's relationship to nature has been altered by it, according to the BBC.

Read More Show Less