Coronavirus Is Now A 'Global Public Health Emergency'

With 213 reported deaths and just shy of 10,000 confirmed cases across twenty countries, the Wuhan coronavirus has now been categorized by the WHO as a global public health emergency of international concern.

According to Science News, the World Health Organization has been hesitant to label the novel coronavirus a "global public health emergency" up to this point, citing a lack of human to human transmission outside of the disease's country of origin. Their official opinion on the matter was shifted after person-to-person transmission of the virus was confirmed in the United States on January 30th, 2020. It's been reported that an Illinois woman diagnosed with 2019-nCoV has passed the virus to her husband. Physicians can now confirm that the Wuhan coronavirus can be transmitted through droplets and direct physical contact.

Specific concerns raised by the WHO include the potential damage that the coronavirus could inflict on countries without advanced medical infrastructure. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was quoted as saying "We don't know what kind of damage this virus could do if the virus spread throughout a country with a weaker health system... For all these reasons, I'm declaring a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of novel coronavirus."

Not the type of corona you'd like to have

Since its first reported case in December of 2019, the coronavirus has spread to twenty countries including the U.S., New Zealand, and India. CNN reports that the virus is now confirmed to be capable of asymptomatic transmission during its incubation period. Doctor Camilla Rothe, an infectious disease specialist, pointed out that its initial symptoms are "clinically unspectacular" and include a mild cough and sore throat, making early detection problematic.

The WHO has only declared a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, six times since they began using the designation during the 2003 SARS outbreak, with Science News listing the other five instances as the influenza pandemic of 2009, the 2013–2016 West African Ebola outbreak, a string of polio cases in 2014, 2016's Zika scare, and the current Ebola outbreak in Congo.