World Health Organization declares global emergency as Coronavirus continues to spread

Jan 30, 2020

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Update 30 January 2020, 8:40 p.m.: 

The rapid spread of a deadly coronavirus-type disease has forced the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee to declare a global emergency, which is not something that happens often. This global emergency marks W.H.O.’s sixth declaration ever as it is reserved for “extraordinary events” that pose a public health risk by threatening to spread internationally. Currently, the virus has spread to 20 countries across the world, covering four of the seven continents.

The coronavirus outbreak has now surpassed the SARS outbreak of 2003 with nearly 8,000 cases confirmed and 170 people dead. Just yesterday, Jan 29., it was reported that 5,327 people in mainland China had been infected and 132 had died — that’s an increase of nearly 45% infected and 29% dead in less than 24-hours.

We’ve also learned the United States has seen its first case of human-to-human transmission. It happened in Chicago. The patient is reportedly the husband of a woman who was the first reported case in Illinois.

Related: What a coronavirus outbreak means for travelers?

There are still only five confirmed cases in the United States of the coronavirus strain although 92 patients are still pending confirmation.

Airlines around the globe have started to cancel and reduce service to China, with many countries sending in special flights to evacuate foreign diplomats and residents. Even cruise ships have rerouted trips.

The strain of the virus can be transmitted from human to human contact, which is why this outbreak is so deadly. Airports around the world are taking precautions with over 20 U.S. airports implementing coronavirus screening and quarantine stations since 31 December.

Jan. 22, 2020

Major news out of China, where we’ve been reporting on a novel viral outbreakChinese authorities have issued an order to quarantine the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, as well as shut down the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou. All transportation into and out of the cities has been virtually shut down.

Chinese authorities said on Wednesday, “Starting Jan. 23 at 10 a.m., all public buses, subway, ships, and long distance trains will halt operations without specific directions, Wuhan residents should stay within the region. All airports, train stations, and tracks are temporarily closed to outbound traffic. They will announce when normal service resumes”.

The Wuhan City Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarters issued a notice at 6:19 p.m. GMT (2:19 a.m. local time) on Jan. 22. China Daily shared the news shortly after.

By evening Thursday, officials in the city of Huanggang plan to close off the city, as well as shut rail stations in the nearby city of Ezhou. Huanggang is a city of about seven million people, while Ezhou is home to about one million residents. Residents in Huanggang will not be allowed to leave their city without special permission.

Wuhan is the Hubei province’s largest city, which means that the order impacts over 11 million people.

The Coronavirus type disease has killed at least 17 people as of Thursday and more than 570 people have been sickened across six countries, including the United States.

Government and health officials have been especially worried about the spread of this deadly disease as the outbreak occurred right before the Lunar New Year, one of the most popular holidays for travel in China. There has also been the worry of the virus causing a global outbreak much like the SARS outbreak in 2003.

Given that a majority of the cases have been in Wuhan, as well as nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou, the decision to shut down the city while officials work on containing the virus may help slow the spread of the disease.

We’ll continue to update this developing story.

Featured photo by Mark Ralston/Getty Images.

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