The death toll in China from the coronavirus rose to 213, as the World Health Organization declared a health emergency for a disease that now has more global cases than were officially reported during the SARS epidemic.
The WHO’s decision comes the outbreak of coronavirus shows no signs of abating. So far over 9,800 people have been infected across the world. India documented its first case on Thursday, while Russia closed its land border with China to travellers. In total, about 20 countries have reported confirmed cases of the virus in travellers coming from China.
China said it has full confidence and capability to win the fight against the epidemic.The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.
The health agency described the emergency as an "extraordinary event" as other countries are at risk. Therefore a coordinated global response is required in order to contain a virus that broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan three weeks ago.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director-general, said: "The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries. Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, which are ill-prepared to deal with it."
"We are all in this together and we can only stop it together," Tedros said, advocating worldwide cooperation to aid developing countries, work on vaccines and diagnostics, as well as review public health plans.
Despite the urgency, the medical expert wants business as usual for commerce and travel. "We don't recommend trade and travel restrictions as the WHO," Tedros said, arguing that such measures would be an unnecessary disruption.
That, however, has not stopped several countries from advising their citizens against traveling to China. The United States on Thursday told Americans not to travel to China. In Germany, the Foreign Ministry has warned against travel to the Hubei province and recommended postponing any nonessential travel to China if possible.