The World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared a public health emergency of international concern due to the number of coronavirus cases in China. It is extremely rare – the WHO has only declared this type of emergency six times. They are taking this precaution because this new strain of coronavirus meets their definition of what is considered an “extraordinary event.” They believe it “constitutes a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease.” It means the outbreak meets their criteria of an unusual, unexpected, or severe 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 think China is doing more than required. It is a response because they believe 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. WHO is especially concerned about 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. WHO advises countries to share information and develop a vaccine quickly. They are also encouraging everyone to crack down on misinformation. Most of us know how quickly false information and rumors can spread, especially on social media. So, I implore you to be aware of what you’re discussing and sharing on social media. Make sure your information comes from a legitimate source. 

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