WHO: Coronavirus outbreak has not yet become a global health emergency

UNTV News   •   January 24, 2020   •   349

Madrid – The coronavirus outbreak is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

“I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) today,” Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.

“For the moment, WHO does not recommend any broader restrictions on travel or trade.

“We recommend exit screening at airports as part of a comprehensive set of containment measures,” he added.

This announcement comes after three Chinese cities with a total population of around 18 million people had been put on lockdown Thursday in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus as hundreds of millions prepare to travel across the country to celebrate the new year.

China’s National Health Commission on Thursday published detailed information about the 17 mortal victims of the disease, which include 13 men and 4 women aged between 48 and 89.

Chinese state TV said there were now over 600 confirmed cases within the country.

Authorities closed down public transport and urged people to stay at home in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak and the capital of Hubei province with a population of 11 million.

They later implemented similar measures in neighboring cities of Huanggang and Ezhou, which are separated by the Yangtze River and have populations of six and one million respectively.

Airlines in South Korea and Japan, where cases of the virus have also been detected, also halted outbound flights to China’s seventh largest city.

Singapore authorities confirmed a new case — a 66 years-old man with Chinese nationality who arrive in the city from Wuhan on January 20.

The coronavirus outbreak had already sparked even worries within the country, which is just a four-and-a-half hour flight from Wuhan.

The United Arab Emirates announced Thursday that Dubai airport will start screening passengers coming from China.

“Dubai International Airport will conduct thermal screening measures on passengers on direct flights from China,” Dubai Media Office posted to Twitter.

The Dubai airport, one of the world’s busiest, received in 2019 a total of 3.7 million Chinese visitors.

It said is prepared to welcome “the thousands of Chinese passengers anticipated to arrive at the airport during the Chinese New Year (25 January) festivities.”

Two days after the US authorities had confirmed the first case of coronavirus in Washington state, Canada Health Minister Patty Hajdu informed that several people in Canada were under observation for pneumonia signs although the risk remained low in the country.

“At this point, there has not been a positive case in Canada,” Hajdu said.
“The risk is low to Canadians.”

In other countries, the risk remains low, although Mexico and Brazil confirmed several suspected cases.

Health officials reported three new possible cases on Thursday, a woman, a man and a 2-year-old child from Tepatitlan, Jalisco.

The Brazilian government declared the Level 1 health alert due to the possible arrival of the coronavirus to the country since authorities had ruled out five suspected cases of the disease.

An Emergency Operations Center was installed to monitor the risk, according to official sources.

The symptoms of the new coronavirus, originating in Wuhan and provisionally named 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization (WHO), in many cases seems like a cold, but include fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).

The new coronavirus sometimes referred to as Wuhan pneumonia, is similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that in 2002-2003 killed more than 700 people. EFE-EPA

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Air quality in Beijing improves due to coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020

As the whole world is struggling to fight the coronavirus pandemic, one of the unexpected outcomes for Chinese people is more clean skies.

China had a significant decrease in nitrogen dioxide pollution in cities like Beijing during February, when factories and streets were closed as authorities attempted to stop the spread of the virus, according to the European Space Agency (ESA) Copernicus satellite image.

Analysis by Greenpeace shows that the pollutant emissions in Beijing and its surrounding areas dropped by more than 40% year-on-year in February.

Compared to previous years, the air in the capital has seen a big improvement during the outbreak. Streets and landmarks are no longer covered in smog.

Beijing resident Liu Chuan takes this as a potential health benefit, saying that he could even see stars at night after work.

“It feels like the air is overall much less polluted than it used to be. It also improves people’s mood, and indirectly strengthens the immunity. It’s good for fighting the virus,” added Liu.

However, expert warns the air pollution and carbon emissions may soon reappear as Chinese factories are ramping up output in an effort to offset the economic hit of coronavirus.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that it may cause air pollution frequently if a large scale of high-polluting industries resume production,” said Lyn Liu, a Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner. (Reuters)

(Production: Irene Wang, Shubing Wang, Joyce Zhou, Natalie Thomas)

China advises foreign diplomats to stop coming to Beijing

UNTV News   •   April 3, 2020

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

China’s foreign ministry is advising foreign diplomats to stop coming to Beijing, after the country temporarily banned most foreigners from entering to prevent a resurgence of a coronavirus epidemic, a spokeswoman said on Friday (April 3).

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing that the ministry was aware of confirmed coronavirus cases among foreign diplomats in China.

Mainland China reported 31 new confirmed coronavirus cases, 29 of which were imported from overseas, the country’s National Health Commission said on Friday.

The total number of infections now stands at 81,620 and 3,322 deaths have been reported from mainland China to date. (Reuters)

(Production: Shubing Wang, Irene Wang)

WHO warns Western Pacific countries to prepare for ‘large-scale’ outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   April 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the Western Pacific region is far lower than the number in Europe and the United States.

China, the origin of the new virus, also reported low rate of new infection in the recent days since the pandemic started in January this year.

But the World Health Organization (WHO) cannot be complacent.

Who Regional Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai has warned countries in the Western Pacific Region, including the Philippines, “to prepare for the large-scale community outbreak.”

The official said one effective strategy to slow down the spread of COVID-19 is the lockdown, though such measure is not enough to stop the contagion.

Lockdown to be effective, we also have to continue find case, isolate and treat early and also trace and quarantine those contacts. Lockdown is a bundle of public health measures,” Dr. Kasai said.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier urged people worldwide to always prepare as if they would contract the virus and governments to take a comprehensive approach to fighting the epidemic by tracing, testing and isolating as many cases as possible.

“To suppress and control the epidemic, countries must isolate, test, treat and trace,” the official said.

“If they don’t, transmission chains can continue at a low level and then resurface once physical distancing measures are lifted,” he added. He said the test and trace strategy must be the backbone of the response in every country.

Tedros also said that to speed up the search for treatment of the infection, the WHO and its partners are organizing a multi-country study to analyse and compare some yet untested treatments.

Europe is now considered to be the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019. MNP / Reuters

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