The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, the organization announced in a press conference Thursday. The organization says that its greatest concern is the potential for the virus to continue to spread to other countries, particularly those with weaker health systems.
“So far we have not seen any deaths outside China, for which me must all be grateful,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. “Although these numbers are still relatively small compared to the number of cases in China, we must all act together now to limit further spread.”
A declaration of emergency by the WHO typically allows for the mobilization of more money and resources to combat the spread of an infection that poses a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response. The WHO had considered issuing such a declaration last week, but said at the time that it was too early for such a measure.