Will WHO declare coronavirus outbreak public health emergency?

Wearing protective gear a worker at Suseo Station disinfect the ticket office area for the SRT bullet train on Thursday amid heightened concern over the spread of Wuhan coronavius ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays

Wearing protective gear a worker at Suseo Station disinfect the ticket office area for the SRT bullet train on Thursday amid heightened concern over the spread of Wuhan coronavius ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays

Citizens have been told not leave the megacity of 11 million people without specific reasons, according to a notice issued by Wuhan's headquarters for the control and treatment of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus.

The announcement comes just a day before the Lunar New Year's Eve, the beginning of the country's peak travel rush, when hundreds of millions of people travel home to be reunited with their families.

If it does so, it will be the sixth global public health emergency to be declared in the last decade.

Tianjin TEDA Co said in an exchange filing on Thursday that its subsidiary, TEDA Filters, is stepping up production of filtration materials used in facial masks to meet surging demand.

Tedros said that while WHO's role is to provide science-based recommendations, "at the end of the day, a sovereign country has the autonomy to do what it thinks is right".

Fears have heightened about the virus' spread through worldwide travel as four other countries confirmed cases.

Outbreak: The current epidemic, which started in mid-December and has already affected more than 500 people, with several fatalities, may have originated in an animal market in the city of Wuhan, a city of 11 million that Chinese authorities have put under quarantine.

As of Thursday, 639 people have fallen ill, mostly in China but with confirmed cases in Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and the US. "Mass quarantines are typically considered not very effective". Already the virus has been collected and decoded from at least 24 victims in Wuhan, Shenzhen, and other cities. "It's a bit like a sledgehammer".

Countries, including the United States, are screening passengers arriving from Wuhan for symptoms of the infection, including cough, fever, and shortness of breath, and informing travelers about the signs of the virus to encourage them to seek out medical care if they become sick.

In the us, the Centers for Disease Control said that the risk to Americans is "low". The PHEIC designation would have enabled Tedros, as the World Health Organization director-general is known, to urge countries not to close borders or limit trade, though countries do not have to comply.

China coronavirus: What we know and what to do
Train stations, airports, subways, ferries and buses will shut down, the state media agency reported Wednesday. The hashtag "Wuhan is sealed off" was trending on China's Twitter-like Weibo, with more than 30 million views.

Bats were the source of SARS, which was then believed to be spread to weasel-like mammals called masked palm civets and then humans.

The first cases in the Wuhan outbreak were connected to people who worked at or visited a seafood market, which has since been closed for an investigation.

It is too early for a mortality rate to be established yet, but with 17 people dead so far, that means about 2.6 percent of patients have die.

The outbreak began in Wuhan, a major transportation hub as well as central China's main industrial and commercial center, and has now spread to other major population centers including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The number of confirmed deaths has risen to 17, with more than 570 confirmed infected, officials said.

World Health Organization officials announced Thursday that they will not be declaring a public health emergency of global concern, or PHEIC, in response to the coronavirus outbreak in China, despite the fact that isolated cases have surfaced in several other countries.

"Certainly, that's what happened with the SARS outbreak in 2002". The PHEIC designation (pronounced "fake") was created following an update to the International Health Regulations after that outbreak.

Freedman added: "The concern is that further mutation of the virus may render it both more contagious, potentially leading to a global epidemic, and or more virulent leading to more severe illness/higher mortality even in previously healthy people-time will tell".

However, Hunter said he doubts the outbreak will develop into a pandemic, "though we still do need to take the outbreak seriously and monitor the situation carefully".

Helen Branswell contributed reporting.

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