The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) from Wuhan, China has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday, January 30, 2020. By Friday, January 31, the number of fatalities jumped to 213 and the number of confirmed cases to 9 820.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and other officials announced the declaration in Geneva, which was officially called a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
"Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems," said Ghebreyesus.
On Friday, Chinese officials reported the highest death toll in a 24-hour period as 43 more deaths were announced in China, bringing the death toll to 213-- all in the outbreak-stricken country.
Also, in the past 24 hours, roughly 2 000 new cases were recorded in the country, raising the number of cases to at least 9 820.
Tibet has reported its first confirmed case, as well as the UK. Two patients in England who were members of the same family tested positive for the virus.
There have been 14 cases in Thailand and Japan each, 10 in Hong Kong and Singapore, eight in Taiwan, seven each in Australia, Malaysia, and Macau, six in the U.S. and France, four each in South Korea, Germany, and the UAE, three in Canada, two each in Vietnam and Italy, and one each in India, Nepal, Cambodia, Finland, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.
In particular, cases reported in Taiwan, Germany, Vietnam, Japan, France, and the U.S. involved patients who had not been to Wuhan.
Many countries have started taking measures in efforts to contain the epidemic-- some have advised their citizens to avoid visiting China, while some banned entry from travelers from Wuhan city in Hubei province, the outbreak's core.
The U.S. has begun evacuating its citizens from China, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the nation's first human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus. The new patient is the husband of the woman who carried the infection back from Wuhan.
The U.S. State Department escalated its travel advisory warning for China to the same level as Afghanistan and Iraq as the toll from the new coronavirus continues to rise https://t.co/nSnobtxNvj pic.twitter.com/FLE0uTNNBb— Reuters (@Reuters) January 31, 2020
Other countries such as South Korea and the U.K., have also started evacuating their people from China, while an increasing number of major airlines have suspended flights to and from mainland China.
Russia has ordered the closure of its border with China as a proactive measure as well while there have been no confirmed cases in the country, while capital city Moscow already blocked Chinese tour groups.
In a port in Italy, over 6 000 tourists aboard a cruise ship were put under temporary lockdown following the isolation of its two Chinese passengers who were feared to have shown symptoms. The passengers later tested negative for the coronavirus.
"We must all act together now to limit further spread. We can only stop it together," said Ghebreyesus.
The complete clinical picture with regard to 2019-nCoV is still not fully clear, CDC said. Reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with mild illness to people being severely ill and dying.
Symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
CDC believes at this time that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS viruses.
There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
Featured image credit: LeStudio1.com - 2020/Flickr
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