WHO declines to declare Wuhan virus as global outbreak health emergency

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GENEVA: The World Health Organization on Thursday eveninh declined to declare the ongoing outbreak of a novel virus in China as a global health emergency.

During the meeting, the WHO official saying that for now health officials are sufficiently equipped to combat the outbreak China and in other countries. which the agency does not need the additional authorities that come from such a declaration.

Announcing a public health emergency of international concern, or known as PHEIC, grants the WHO director-general certain powers, including the ability to issue recommendations for how countries should respond.

Declaring a PHEIC could also galvanize global attention to the need to address the outbreak, which has sickened hundreds and killed at least 17 people in China, and led to cases in countries including Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and, as of Tuesday, the United States.

Didier Houssin, the chair of a WHO emergency committee, said on Thursday that members remained divided about the need for a PHEIC, but that overall, they decided it was too early to recommend that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declare one.

Houssin said that some members felt because there were so few cases outside of China and because Chinese authorities had implemented steps to try to contain the virus, the outbreak at this point did not amount to a global emergency.

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