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WHO advises countries not to panic; says coronavirus not yet pandemic

A week ago, the World Health Organisation had declared coronavirus as a public health emergency as the epidemic spread to more than 20 countries across the world

WHO advises countries not to panic; says coronavirus not yet pandemic
Geneva, First Published Feb 5, 2020, 9:46 AM IST
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Geneva: The World Health Organisation on Tuesday said that the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus, which has spread from China to two dozen countries, does not yet constitute a "pandemic".

"Currently we are not in a pandemic," Sylvie Briand, head of the WHO's Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness division, told reporters in Geneva.

Instead, she said, "We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci." The disease has killed more than 425 people and infected a further 20,000 in China, nearly all of them in central Hubei province -- the epicentre of the outbreak -- and spread to two-dozen countries since it emerged in December.

Briand said that while there is rapid spread of transmission in Hubei, the cases outside the province are mainly "spillover cases" with sporadic clusters of transmission.

At the same time, authorities in China have taken dramatic measures to halt transmission, while other affected countries have also taken steps to avoid the spread of the virus.

"We hope that based on those measures in Hubei but also in other places where we have had spill-over, we can stop transmission and get rid of this virus," she said.

On January 31, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a public health emergency of international concern over the outbreak of coronavirus. 

The first case of coronavirus was reported in Wuhan city of China in December and since then the virus has spread in most parts of the world. In China, the death toll from the deadly mounted to more than 400 with over 14,000 people tested positive for the disease.

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