The World Health Organization will be reconvening the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Thursday (January 30) to decide whether the current outbreak of novel coronavirus constitutes a ‘public health emergency of international concern’. The WHO announced the decision last night.
The Emergency Committee last met on January 22-23 to decide if the outbreak was a public health concern. But the WHO did not declare it as a public health emergency then due to a split verdict of the committee.
There have been at least 7,711 cases reported from all the 31 provinces in mainland China so far. The number of deaths stand at 170. There were 1,737 cases and 38 deaths reported from mainland China on Wednesday, according to the China’s National Health Commission.
There have been around 70 cases recorded from 15 countries. Most cases reported from other countries have been in people who have travelled from China, particularly from the city of Wuhan, which is the epicentre of novel coronavirus outbreak.
“But some person-to-person transmission in three countries outside of China has been recorded. This potential for further global spread is why I called the emergency committee,” Director-General of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in another tweet on Wednesday.
“People who have contracted new coronavirus are showing a wide range of symptoms. Of known cases, most people exhibit milder symptoms, but about one in five 5 people have severe illness, including pneumonia and respiratory failure,” he tweeted.
He also apologised for the mistake the WHO had committed in communicating global risk assessment. On January 27, the WHO updated the global risk assessment from moderate to high retroactively from January 23. The update to global risk was mentioned in the footnote on the WHO’s Situation Report.
“WHO deeply regrets the error in this week’s situation report, which inserted the word “moderate” inaccurately in the coronavirus global risk assessment. This was a human error in preparing the report. I have repeatedly stated the high risk of the outbreak,” Dr. Tedros tweeted.