The World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, after an emergency committee reconvened Thursday this week in Geneva.
Last week, the organization said the virus did not yet constitute the emergency declaration, drawing criticism from many on social media. But with rising numbers and evidence of person-to-person transmission in a handful of cases outside of China, WHO leadership called the committee back together over possible concerns of a larger outbreak down the line.
WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern as “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “public health risk to other countries through the international spread of disease” and “to potentially require a coordinated international response.”
Previous emergencies have included Ebola, Zika and H1N1.
Thailand has had fourteen confirmed cases, none from person to person transmission and all from previous travel to China. There have been no deaths. The Pattaya area has had no confirmed or suspected cases despite false rumors. A woman was arrested yesterday in Bangkok as we reported for falsely claiming the virus had been found in Pattaya.
China has banned all tour groups, although independent travellers can still travel. The virus and tour group ban is expected to deliver a major hit to tourist industries across Thailand and all of Asia.