Most of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standards for declaring a global emergency have been met. Still, it’s awaiting clear proof of a sustained spread of the new coronavirus outside China prior to declaration.
The U.N. subsidiary is seeking to balance the need to ensure China continues to share information about the coronavirus, whereas also giving sound scientific advice to the worldwide community on the dangers, in keeping with several public health specialists and a Western diplomat who tracks the WHO’s work.
The WHO has declared five global emergencies ten years ago, including the continued Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Doing so can hurt host nations because it could result in flight cancellations and travel or trade restrictions, dragging on the economy.
In the latest case, the WHO settled to declare China’s coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern twice last week, though its Emergency Committee was divided “50-50” over whether to take action.
WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier refused to comment beyond what he told a news briefing earlier Tuesday.
While the majority of the 4,500 confirmed cases and all 106 deaths so far have been in China, cases in Germany, Vietnam, and Japan where the coronavirus has spread.
The WHO’s 16-member expert committee is being “kept in the loop” and might be reconvened at any time to reassess the epidemic.
WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Chinese Prez Xi Jinping met in Beijing Tuesday to protect Chinese residents and foreigners in regions affected by the coronavirus and “possible” evacuation alternatives, Lindmeier stated.