New Delhi, January 22-In the wake of the SARS-like coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China an emergency meeting of International Health Regulation (IHR) has been convened by the World Health Organisation (WHO) today in Geneva. It is yet to be seen whether WHO will declare the outbreak, that has claimed six lives so far and affected another 300 people, as global public health emergency.
WHO announced the urgent meet after China declared that 300 people have already been infected by the virus which can spread from human to human.
The international community already fears that the outbreak could spread as millions of Chinese begin travelling home and abroad for the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival holidays starting from January 24, and hence such a declaration could help avoid an epidemic by bringing nations together to plan a coordinated response. A statement on the number of deaths and how far the virus has spread will soon be released by China’s National Health Commission.
WHO has has held such emergency meetings in the past where the international health emergencies were declared following Ebola, swine flu outbreaks.
The epicentre of the outbreak is believed to be a seafood Market in Wuhan, the Chinese city which has reported 258 cases so far. Apart from that, Thailand has reported two cases and Japan, South Korea and Taiwan has reported one each.
India has already issued a travel warning and the Ministry of Civil Aviation on Tuesday ordered seven airports, including those in Delhi and Mumbai, to start thermal screening of passengers arriving from China. Several other countries have already started screening travellers coming from China, especially from Wuhan, to detect symptoms like fever, according to a report in India Today.
According to the report, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang confirmed on Monday that Chinese officials would be attending the emergency meeting of the International Health Regulation (IHR) called by the WHO in Geneva.
Meanwhile, there are reports of 15 medical.eorkers being infected by the virus at Wuhan, with one in critical condition, said Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. BBC reported that the workers presumably became infected with the virus due to the contact with patients. All of them are being kept in isolation while being treated.