WHO Chief Sounds Alarm Over Novel Coronavirus, 'A Threat To The Entire World'

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says that novel coronavirus is a threat to the entire world, and called on the global community to respond to the alarm bells.

"Through WHO and the International Health Regulations, we need to bring together the assets of the entire world in order to adequately address this threat. We need more information, and we need it quickly, urgently," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan told the valedictory session of the 66th World Health Assembly in the Swiss city of Geneva on Monday.

She announced that joint WHO missions with Saudi Arabia and Tunisia would take place as soon as possible to gather all the facts needed to conduct a proper risk assessment.

Dr. Chan said looking at the overall world health situation, her greatest concern right now was the novel coronavirus.

"We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat. Any new disease that is emerging faster than our understanding is never under control. We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these question, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. The novel coronavirus is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself," she told the Assembly.

After seven days of intense discussions, the Assembly concluded with agreement on a range of new public health measures and recommendations aimed at securing greater health benefits for all people, everywhere.

In all, 24 resolutions and five decisions were adopted by the nearly 2,000 delegates representing WHO Member-States.

It approved a budget for the next two years, and a high-level vision for the next six years.

Since the beginning of May, 19 patients, including nine deaths, have been reported from the outbreak primarily linked to a health care facility in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia. A total of 38 laboratory confirmed cases of human infection with NCoV had been confirmed in the Middle East and Europe with the death toll rising to 20.

The new strain of the virus was first identified in September last year in a man from Qatar who had traveled in Saudi Arabia. He had developed fever and respiratory problems.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which became an epidemic in 2003. The virus could be transmitted between people in close and prolonged contact. The sources of infection for the new coronavirus are still unclear.

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