This announcement comes as the outbreak has grown to include around 9,800 cases of people infected with the coronavirus. So far the coronavirus has killed 213 people.
There is no treatment or vaccine for the coronavirus, which appears to spread by close contact with patients experiencing symptoms including; coughing, pneumonia, and shortness of breath. About 20% of cases appear severe, and the fatality rate in China is 2%. These estimates are expected to decrease as more mild cases are discovered.
Washing hands, avoiding contact of unwashed fingers with your face, and medical isolation of sick patients are the best tools for avoiding infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).The decision came after a vote by an emergency committee at WHO to recommend the declaration, said the committee chair Didier Houssin. The panel declined twice to make the recommendation, but the increase in the number of nations reporting coronavirus cases and the excessive steps taken by nations to close borders or restrict travel forced the vote, he said.
The declaration is not intended as a vote of doubt in China’s response to the outbreak, which includes its travel ban on 50 million people in the epicenter of the outbreak, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. It is an international call to help smaller countries with less advanced public health systems to help prevent spread of the outbreak. No restrictions on travel or trade should result from the declaration, he said.
“There are only 98 cases outside China,” said Tedros, who was lavish in his praise for Chinese efforts to contain the outbreak. “That number would be higher if not for their actions already.”