WHO declares international health emergency


As the death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 213, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on Thursday and the U.S. Department of State upped its travel warning on China to the highest level.

The news comes as U.S. health officials reported the first U.S. case of person-to-person spread of the virus.

The U.N. health agency defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response. The State Department, in a late-evening advisory, ratcheted up its warning level on China to Level 4 – Do Not Travel.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, which held its Emergency Committee meeting in Geneva, said there are 98 cases of coronavirus in 18 countries. 

Dr. Tedros praised China for its quick response to the crisis, which broke out in December, saying the emergency declaration “is not a vote of no confidence in China.”

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