The World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared a public health emergency of international concern due to the number or coronavirus cases in China. This is extremely rare – the WHO has only declared this type of emergency six times in its existence. They are taking this precaution because this new strain of coronavirus meets their definition of what is considered an “extraordinary event.” They believe that it “constitutes a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease.” This means the outbreak meets their criteria of an unusual, unexpected, or serious situation that may require immediate international action. Currently, there are 98 cases in 18 countries outside of China.

Coordinated International Response

The good news is that this decision is not because officials feel china is not containing the coronavirus. On the contrary, they feel China is doing more than what is required. What this is a response to is that they feel the virus is now a significant threat beyond China warranting a coordinated international response. The main goal is to contain the virus as fast as possible, and the best way to do that is to get countries to work together. The WHO is especially concerned for countries with weaker health systems. It is unlikely they are well-prepared to handle this type of pathogen, which could lead to many more deaths.

How Will A Coordinated Effort Be Achieved

The main priority right now is treatment. The WHO is advising countries to share information and to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible. They are also encouraging everyone to crack down on misinformation. Most of us are well aware of how quickly false information and rumors can spread, especially on social media. So, I implore you, please be aware of what you’re discussing and sharing on social media. Make sure your information comes from a legitimate source. 

Coronavirus Outbreak Is Now an International Public Health Emergency