June 24, 2021

Division in WHO before a possible international alert for Wuhan pneumonia

The World Health Organization (WHO) today failed to agree whether the current outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan (China), with more than 440 affected and 17 dead, must or should not be declared an international emergency, so it decided to continue until tomorrow, Thursday, the expert meeting to decide.

The Emergency Committee, made up of 16 medical experts from various countries, was divided 50 percent among supporters and opponents to declare such an alert, which would launch prevention systems worldwide, after long hours of debate in the WHO headquarters in Geneva.


“There was a good discussion within the committee, but it was clear that to continue it we need more information,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference, arguing that caution responds to “they take very seriously “the outbreak.

Tedros added that a WHO team continues to work on the outbreak of the epidemic to continue research on the outbreak, whose origin, possible treatments or ways of infection are not yet fully known.

The experts of the organization recalled that there is evidence of transmission of the virus among humans (which makes its spread faster), as in previous coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) .

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhova, director of the WHO Department of Emerging Diseases, stressed that although an animal origin of the coronavirus is suspected (possibly in a fish and seafood market in Wuhan), that and other places of food sales are still being analyzed for Determine the initial cause.


The Emergency Committee meeting, chaired by Frenchman Didier Hussein, began on a day when China reported a sharp increase in diagnosed cases, precisely when the country is preparing for the annual exodus of passengers due to the vacations of one week for the New Year of the Rat (as of Saturday, January 25).

Given this, the Wuhan authorities have ordered the closure of all transport in the city in order to stop the departure of more than 10 million inhabitants, including bus networks, subway, ferries on the Yangtze River, trains and airports

Regarding the drastic measure, Tedros said that the actions of the Chinese authorities show their “strong commitment” to contain the situation “in order not only to control its expansion within the country but also internationally.”


The international alert would mean the implementation of preventive measures at a global level, and in the past it has been declared five times: before the outbreak of H1N1 flu (2009), those of Ebola in West Africa (2014) and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2019), polio in 2014 and zika virus in 2016.

The symptoms of the new coronavirus, provisionally named by WHO 2019-nCoV, are in many cases similar to those of a cold, but may be accompanied by fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).

The virus is already present in at least 13 Chinese provinces, in addition to the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, which confirmed their first cases on Wednesday, and at least 4 people affected in Thailand have been detected at the moment, and one in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States.

For now, WHO has not issued alerts to those traveling to China and has only advised the general population in affected areas basic hygiene measures such as washing their hands with soap, covering their mouth or nose when coughing and sneezing, or avoiding contact with people with symptoms similar to those of a flu.


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