World Health Organization says coronavirus ‘too early’ for emergency declaration

25 Janvier, 2020, 00:24 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
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China reported its 18 death on Thursday just before the press briefing.

China's Hebei provincial health authority said a patient infected with the new coronavirus has died, marking the first confirmed death outside Hubei province where the outbreak began.

"I would be very surprised if this were a snake virus", says Timothy Sheahan, a virologist at the University of North Carolina.

On Thursday night, the World Health Organisation's emergency committee said it was "too early" to declare an global public health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak.

A SARS-like virus has claimed 17 lives since emerging on December 31 in a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Wuhan was placed on shutdown earlier this week to try and halt the spread of the virus. Roads are not officially closed, but as BBC News reports - backed up by footage on social media - there have been reports of roadblocks preventing drivers from getting in or out of Wuhan, where the virus originated from; a city of 11 million residents.

Wuhan's Hankou rail station was almost deserted, with gates blocked, state broadcasts showed. The Forbidden City, the palace complex in Beijing, announced it will close indefinitely on Saturday.

"We are feeling as though it is the end of the world", said one Wuhan resident on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform, voicing concerns about shortages of food and disinfectant.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities are locking down three cities that are home to more than 25 million people.

Similar measures will take effect from Friday in the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou. "The closures will continue until further announcement", the government stated.

The university said there were now 34 students from the programme in Dundee, having arrived in September 2019 and said five members of staff had returned from a visit to Wuhan last week.

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"The new pneumonia is our new common enemy", Shi Chengwei, a driver, told AFP.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is helping five USA cities conduct health screenings for passengers travelling from China: Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and John F. Kennedy International Airport in NY.

The respiratory virus has killed at least 17 people worldwide and sickened more than 500 in China.

Flights have also been suspended from Wuhan, after cases have been confirmed in Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, Japan, and the US.

Here is a list of countries that have so far confirmed cases of the so-called coronavirus.

World Health Organization defines a global emergency as an "extraordinary event" that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated worldwide response.

Wuhan's special anti-virus command centre said the quarantine measures were meant to "effectively cut off the virus spread", according to state media. A man in his 30s in Washington was said to be in good condition following his diagnosis; he also had recently traveled to central China.

Under the shadow of its mishandling of the SARS pandemic 17 years ago, China wants to show the world it's dealing with the crisis transparently and effectively, while still struggling to understand a pathogen that is hard to detect.

While departures were banned, trains and airplanes were still allowed into the city, with the tourism and culture department canceling all group tours until February 8, state media reported.

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