The World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency on Thursday night coronavirus outbreak. Health experts made the announcement late on Thursday, after a meeting of the WHO emergency committee in Geneva.
Speaking to reporters, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "The main reason for this statement is not what is happening in China, but what is happening in other countries.
"Our biggest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems and ill-prepared to deal with it."
Last week, WHO said it was "too early" to declare an international public health emergency, but on Thursday it said action was needed to help countries prepare for the possibility of spreading further.
The new virus has already infected more people in China than it fell ill during the 2002-2003 severe outbreak of acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The number of cases jumped to 7,711, surpassing the 5,327 people diagnosed with SARS.
What is a global public health emergency?
A Public Health Emergency of International Interest (PHEIC) is a formal declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) of "an extraordinary event determined to pose a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and potentially require a response. coordinated international ".
A PHEIC is declared when a "serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected" situation arises, which also "has implications for public health beyond the national border of the affected state" and "may require immediate international action".
The Director-General of WHO said of the organization's statement: "The main reason for this decision is not what is happening in China, but what is happening in other countries.
What happens now?
Coronavirus cases continue to be monitored with WHO said "the whole world needs to be on the alert" about the new coronavirus outbreak.
Now, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has jumped to 7,711, with 170 deaths.
India confirmed its first case on Thursday, as did the Philippines.
In the UK, 161 people tested negative for the virus on Thursday, however, the UK raised the threat alert level from low to moderate after the WHO announcement.
Of the 1,466 passengers and 95 employees who arrived in the UK from Wuhan between 10 and 24 January, about 162 have already left the UK and 760 are outside the 14-day incubation period for the virus.
Meanwhile, British Airways extended its suspension of all flights to and from mainland China until Monday.
Virgin Atlantic flights between Heathrow and Shanghai continue to operate on schedule.
Also on Thursday, an apartment hotel in Yorkshire was arrested after a man, considered Chinese, was taken to the hospital after becoming ill.
The man, who was a guest at the Staycity Hotel in downtown York, was taken to the hospital by doctors on Wednesday night.