World Health Organization requests $675 million for coronavirus battle

Friday, 07 Feb, 2020

The dramatic measures taken by China to rein in the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak have prevented significant spread overseas, providing a "window of opportunity" to halt transmission, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

While there is now no vaccine for the coronavirus, public health officials have urged people to take preventative measures similar to those taken during flu season, including washing one's hand with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding contact with sick individuals and covering one's coughs and sneezes, as the illness is generally spread through respiratory secretions.

The strategic preparedness and response plan is aimed at guiding the development of outbreak response plans for different countries, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The number of those detected with the virus outside China's mainland has reached 21 in Hong Kong and 10 in Macau.

Nevertheless, he emphasised that the overwhelming majority of circumstances are in China, and of these, 80% are in Hubei province, the place the virus was first detected within the metropolis of Wuhan.

The WHO has declared the Wuhan coronavirus a global health emergency.

"Experts at the World Health Organization have said that the novel coronavirus is not a pandemic, but rather an epidemic with multiple foci, since the number of cases outside of mainland China are few", Brown noted, referring to a statement made Wednesday by Silvie Briand, director of the WHO's global infectious hazard preparedness program.

The virus outbreak out of China has exposed a seeming disconnect between the financial markets and science.

Lam said the number of cases in Hong Kong has risen to 21, with three more local transmissions involving citizens with no travel history to the mainland and an unclear source of infection. We don't know if the virus can be transmitted from someone before their symptoms start or from someone who never gets sick at all, though a recent report suggesting asymptomatic transmission had happened in Germany was debunked this week. The territory's beleaguered leader, Carrie Lam, announced that two terminals - including one where the cruise ship is now quarantined - will be shut down.

They are hoping that even if the virus spreads further, central banks can once again come to the rescue and prop up the global economy by cutting interest rates and offering other stimulus, much as they have done since the 2008 financial crisis.

"Such restrictions can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit", he said, adding that 22 countries had so far informed WHO they were implementing such measures.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on a teleconference on Monday: "We have folks ready to go to China as soon as that offer is finalized".

"Our message to the worldwide community is invest today or pay more later".

In its daily update, the health commission in Hubei also confirmed another 3,694 new cases.

He also responded to published comments from John Mackenzie, a member of the WHO's coronavirus emergency committee, that China's initial response to the outbreak was "reprehensible" and that cases were not rapidly reported.

China is facing mounting isolation as airlines suspend flights to its cities.

The baby born Sunday in Wuhan is China's youngest case of the illness.