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WHO declares global emergency over coronavirus

WHO declares global emergency over coronavirus

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On
Jan 31, 2020 - 14:20

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): In the first major response to the Worldinfo-icon Healthinfo-icon Organisation's declaration of a global emergency over the spreading coronavirus,the United States told its citizens on Friday not to travel to China.

Chinese authorities on Friday increased the toll to 213 dead and nearly 10,000 infections, with the State Department raising its warning alert to the highest level, telling its citizens "do not travel" to China because of an epidemic that has now spread to more than 20 nations.

The WHO, which has faced criticism for initially downplaying the virus threat, revised its risk assessment after crisis talks in Geneva, international media reported.

WHO chief Tedros AdhanomGhebreyesussaid: "Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems. We must all act together to limit further spread…"

Tedros said travel and trade restrictions involving China were unnecessary, but authorities and businesses around the world were taking matters into their own hands.

Germany, Britain and other countries have issued warnings about travel to China and major airlines have suspended or reduced flights to the country. Mongolia has halted cross-border traffic with its huge southern neighbour.

Russia also sealed its remote far-eastern border with China as a precaution. Some countries have banned entry for travellers from Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus first surfaced.

Papua New Guinea has gone so far as to bar all visitors from "Asian ports". In a sign of spreading paranoia, over 6,000 tourists were temporarily put under lockdown aboard a cruise ship at an Italian port after two Chinese passengers fell ill. They later tested negative for the virus.

China has taken extreme steps to stop the spread of the virus, including effectively quarantining more than 50 million people in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.

The government in Beijing on Friday reported 43 new deaths in the preceding 24 hours. The number of new fatalities has risen daily over the past 10 days.

Also on Friday, China's National Health Commission said 1,982 new cases had been confirmed, bringing the total to just under 10,000.

Another 102,000 people were under medical observation in China with possible symptoms of the respiratory ailment.

France on Friday airlifted around 200 of its citizens from Wuhan. They will be placed under two-week quarantine back home. Britain followed suit, extracting 110 British and foreign nationals.

Major airlines that have suspended or reduced service to China include British Airways, German flag carrier Lufthansa, American Airlines, KLM and United.

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