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WHO committee delays decision on China coronavirus


The World Health Organization (WHO) has postponed deciding whether to declare a deadly new virus that emerged in China a global health emergency.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the emergency committee on the novel coronavirus would meet again Thursday after it was “split” over the decision.

“This is an evolving and complex situation. The decision of whether to declare it a public emergency is one I take extremely seriously,” said Tedros, who said advice on measures to be taken would also be given later.

He commended China’s measures in response to the virus outbreak.

“If we are going to keep the world safe, transparency is No.1, and that is what we have seen.”

The committee met in Geneva and by teleconference to advise the director-general on whether the outbreak constituted a public health emergency of international concern.

The coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV and which causes pneumonia-like symptoms, was identified in December in the city of Wuhan, China, which has a population of 11 million.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and trouble breathing.

Hundreds of cases have been reported worldwide, with China confirming 440 as of Wednesday.

Tedros said it was not an unusual decision taken by the authorities in Wuhan to temporarily shut public transport to try to halt the outbreak of a new virus.

“We are in contact with Chinese authorities 24/7 with full commitment…Taking strong action will continue containing the outbreak in the country and help in stopping the outbreak spreading internationally,” he added.

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