World Health declares novel coronavirus a global health emergency

Published On January 30, 2020 | By Nathaniel Smith | International, News

Nathaniel Smith

The World Heath Organization (WHO) committee declaring a global health emergency of international concern allowing the novel coronavirus outbreak at a meeting in Geneva on Thursday Jan. 30. (Nathaniel Smith)

The World Health Organization declared novel coronavirus to be a global health emergency of international concern at a meeting in Geneva on Thursday Jan. 30.

“This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumours. This is the time for the solidarity, not stigma,” said WHO Director- General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

He called on the countries of the world to follow seven principles:

1. WTO doesn’t recommend limiting transfer, trade and movement. We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence based and consistent. WHO stands ready to provide advice to any country that’s considering which measures to take.

WHO Director- General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus member of the WHO committee declaring a global health emergency of international concern allowing the novel coronavirus outbreak at a meeting in Geneva on Thursday Jan. 30. (Nathaniel Smith)

2. We must support countries with weaker health systems.

3. Accelerate the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

4. Combat the spread of rumours and misinformation.

5.  Review preparedness plans. Identify gaps and evaluate the resources needed to identify, isolate and care for cases and prevent transmission.

6. Share data, knowledge and experience with WHO and the world.

7. The only way we will defeat this outbreak is for all countries to work together in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation. We are all in this together and we can only stop it together.

Meanwhile Ontario Public Health officials announced on Thursday that 67 people in the province have been tested for novel coronavirus with 38 tests coming back negative and 27 results still pending.

Public heath officials Dr. David Williams and Dr. Barbara Yaffe at a news conference in Toronto, on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, about coronavirus in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The tests were done by the Ontario public health lab, with the two confirmed cases being a husband and wife who remain the only people positive for the virus in Ontario after coming back from Wuhan.

“In terms of the two cases, the first one remains in hospital and is in stable condition, the second one remains at home in self isolation and is feeling well,” said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer.

170 deaths have been reported from novel coronavirus with over 8000 people infected, surpassing the amount of people in China who contracted SARS in 2003.

A health worker checking the temperature of a traveller as part of the coronavirus screening procedure at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana Jan. 30, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

“Public health has been in contact with all passengers within 2 to 3 metres of cases on the plane, and informed them that they should be looking for signs and symptoms, for a 14-day period” said Dr. Yaffe.

The rapid increase has created fear internationally as people are practising new safety measures to avoid getting sick. A Chinese doctor reported that he caught the virus from not wearing safety goggles, with multiple cases having different causes.

“We’re talking about close contact, we don’t mean causally walking past a person, in tends to be in a family that has frequent regular contact for a period of time,” said Dr.David Williams, Ontario Chief Medical Officer.

CNN update of novel Coronavirus in the U.S, on Jan. 30.

This week a case of the virus was reported in B.C, and the first case of human-to-human transmission was reported in Illinois, from the husband of a women who arrived back from Wuhan.

Masks have been worn by some Ontario residents who are trying to avoid flu symptoms that have led to novel Coronavirus.

“We talked about the masks and how it doesn’t really prevent he virus, someone asked ‘Dave why arn’t you wearing a mask’ and I said ‘ I’m not carrying a surgical procedure as a doctor doing an operation’ but the same time I understand if someone wants to do that, this is what China recommends their citizens do” said Dr. Williams.

He later said he doesn’t find it shocking that people are wearing masks because he worked through SARS, “having been around Toronto for years, I’ve seen that behaviour every winter for years, it’s not new,” said Dr. Williams. 

The elderly are still the most at risk, “young people can get it up and throw off the virus very quickly, older ones with immune problems face more of a challenge and it stay longer” said Dr Williams, the youngest death reported was a 36 year old in Wuhan.

Flights continue to be monitored from China with flight suspensions also taking place.

“We are all in this together and we can only stop it together,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus.

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