The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the dangerous coronavirus spread in more than a dozen countries, including India, as a global health disaster. Meanwhile, in China, the death toll from the coronavirus epidemic has increased to 213 and the number of people infected by infection has risen to 9,692.
The WHO had called an emergency meeting to arrive at a decision like the one it did today on 22 January.
China’s national health officials said the death toll has reached 213, with 43 deaths in Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak. These include mostly elderly people. Also, he told that 1,982 new cases have been confirmed, taking the total number to 9,692.
About 20 countries including India, the UK, the US, South Korea, Japan and France have confirmed the virus in travellers coming from China. On Thursday, after calling an emergency meeting in Geneva, the WHO declared the outbreak a global health disaster. This rare situation in which more international coordination in dealing with the disease is needed to increase.
“Our biggest concern is the possibility of the virus spreading to countries where the health system is weak,” said World Health Organization chief Taderos Adhanom Gebreyes. He declared the virus a public health disaster of international concern (PHEIC).
Reacting to the WHO announcement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a statement to the press, “Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus epidemic, the Chinese government has been taking the most comprehensive and rigorous prevention and control measures with a high sense of responsibility for people’s health. Many of these measures go well beyond the requirements of the International Health Regulations. We have full confidence and capability to win this fight against the epidemic.”
Hua said that many of these steps are much better than the need for international health regulations. The spokesman said, “We have full confidence and ability to win the battle against this epidemic.”
The spokesman said that China had informed other countries and shared the genome sequence of the coronavirus with full openness, transparency and responsible attitude in time. Hua said that China was in close contact and cooperation with WHO.
The spokesman said, “WHO experts recently conducted a field trip to Wuhan. Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also visited China and discussed containment and mitigation of the 2019-nCoV with the Chinese side. He commends China’s efforts and speaks highly of China’s great contribution to the world by fighting against the novel coronavirus. China will continue working with the WHO and other countries to safeguard regional and global public health security.”
Meanwhile, scientists in San Diego of the US have claimed they could develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus disease if they have the DNA sequence of the biological agent, which China has finally shared with the world.
Many airlines are preventing aircraft from reaching China or curtailing flights as the country struggles to stop the deadly coronavirus from spreading. China announced on Friday that it would send charter aircraft to bring residents of the Hubei province, most affected by the coronavirus, back home from abroad.
A spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs in India said in a statement that the citizens of Hubei Province would be brought back due to “practical difficulties” abroad. The move came after the Chinese authorities announced that nearly 5 million people had moved out of the coronavirus epicentre, Hubei province and the capital Wuhan, after the region was officially closed on 23 January.
According to reports, these people travelled inside or outside China on the occasion of Chinese New Year holidays. India on Friday sent an Air India 423-seater Boeing 747 aircraft to evacuate Indian citizens from Wuhan. The government is exploring its desire to bring back 600 Indians living in China’s Hubei province to India.
The Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the force guarding the border, has set up a 600-bed separate centre in Delhi to provide basic medical services to those suspected of coronavirus. ITBP spokesman Vivek Kumar Pandey said that this arrangement has been started in the ITBP camp in the Chawla area of southwest Delhi.
A team of doctors will be present in this 600-bed centre as part of preparations being made in view of coronavirus infection. Pandey said that special arrangements have been made for children and women at a separate centre for the suspected patient of infection. People kept here will get food, water and basic facilities.
The ITBP, with about 90,000 personnel, guards the 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LoAC) with China. This force is under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. The army has made similar arrangements in Manesar (Haryana).