- "Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it."
- On Thursday, the United States confirmed the first case of transmission of 2019-nCoV between people on American soil.
- The Italian government confirmed the first two cases of the disease on Thursday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday, declared the coronavirus an international public health emergency following the outbreak of the disease, first reported in the city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019. “We don’t know what sort of damage this virus could do if it were spread in a country with a weaker health system,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility.” Adhanom stressed that the main reason for the international emergency declaration is not the transmission of the new coronavirus within Chinese territory, but what is happening in other countries. “Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it.”
He added that the declaration wasn’t in any way whatsoever a vote of no-confidence in China’s capabilities, in as far as the control of the outbreak is concerned. “On the contrary,” he said, “WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak.”
On Thursday, the United States confirmed the first case of transmission of 2019-nCoV between people on American soil. Germany, Japan and Vietnam had already confirmed cases of transmission. Considering the “imported” cases, which involve infected patients in China, at least 14 other countries confirmed 2019-nCoV cases: South Korea, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Canada, France, Finland and the United Arab Emirates.
In all, more than 80 patients outside China are being treated in isolation, according to a WHO report published on Thursday. Brazil continues with 9 suspected cases of infection, but none has yet been confirmed. In China, more than 7,700 confirmed cases and more than 12,000 suspects have been recorded . At least 170 people died as a result of 2019-nCoV, all in Chinese territory.
Coronavirus reported in Italy
Elsewhere, a cruise ship with 6,000 people on board was detained in an Italian port on suspicion of carrying the 2019-nCoV coronavirus. A Chinese woman was found to merely have the flu, and passengers were allowed to disembark that night. However, the Italian government confirmed the first two cases of the disease on Thursday. These cases are unrelated to the cruise.
As the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte disclosed, the two patients are Chinese tourists who were staying at the Hotel Palatino, in Rome. Both were hospitalized in the capital. “I’m confident that the situaion will remain contained,” Conte said. The Prime Minister also announced that flights between Italy and China had been suspended.
More than 80 kilometers from Rome, in Civitavecchia, more than 6,000 passengers on a cruise, which had already passed through Spain and France, were prevented from docking at the local port due to the suspicion of at least one case of 2019-nCoV. At night, the contamination was ruled out, and the passenger who generated the uproar was “diagnosed with a common flu,” according to the company that owns the vessel.