(PM) — The World Health Organization on Thursday declared the Wuhan novel coronavirus outbreak that has caused at least 170 deaths in China and spread to 18 countries a global emergency, as concerns mount over the rapidly spreading virus.
The announcement came as new cases are declared in European countries and the United States reports its first case of a person-to-person transmission. Such a transmission is dangerous, health experts say, because they suggest there is a great potential for the virus to spread.
The new coronavirus started at an illegal wildlife market in Wuhan, China in late 2019 and has since spread to some 7,800 cases worldwide, according to the WHO. There have been severe cuts to travel out of China as many Western countries pull their citizens out.
“Let me be clear, this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China,” WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Gbebreyesus, said at a press conference in Geneva.
He added: “Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems.”
The declaration means that there will be recommendations to the international community for preventing the spread of the virus. It does not include limiting travel to and from China at this time, however.
This is a developing story. More to soon follow.