World Health Organization says China virus not global health emergency

World Health Organization says China virus not global health emergency
Watch A deadly virus continues to spread. The first cases of the coronavirus were reported in China in December. Now, a month later, 25 people have died and more than 800 have been infected in five countries around the world.

The coronavirus has killed 25 and sickened 830.

While the World Health Organization says it is concerned, it is not ready to declare a global health emergency.

“Make no mistake. This is an emergency in China. But it has not yet become a global emergency,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesusm, director-general of the World Health Organization.

But the emergency committee remains divided, with half of its members voting for, and half against the deadly virus’ status.

The city of Wuhan in China, believed to be the epicentre of the outbreak, has shut down outbound flights and trains as the country battles the spread of the coronavirus. An official state-run news agency says the city has also asked people not to leave without specific reasons.

Maritime Travel, a travel agency in Victoria, said their clients haven’t been affected, but some Chinese airlines have reached out to them about cancellations.

“If people did have tickets that were flying into the Wuhan area that they could reschedule or have refunds to their tickets,” said Roger Villiers, a travel consultant.

People in Victoria that are from China are worried about their families back home, including some international students.

“It’s very serious and it can spread really quickly,” said Liqun Lu, a Chinese international student at the University of Victoria, whose family lives near Wuhan. “That virus also came into my hometown as well, just two or three [cases] were found.”

Airports around the world are screening people arriving from Wuhan, but the virus has already spread to several Asian countries and a case near Seattle.

People flying into Canada from overseas are being encouraged to self-report if they are experiencing any flu-like symptoms.

Right now, there are no confirmed cases in Canada, but public health officials say they would not be surprised if the virus does make its way here, or already has.

The Quebec public health agency is monitoring five people for signs they may have contracted a coronavirus from China, but Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says that the risk to Canadians remains low.

“At this point, there has not been a positive case in Canada,” Hajdu told reporters ahead of a meeting of Liberal MPs on Parliament Hill on Thursday.

“The risk is low to Canadians.”

More than 830 have been infected around the world by the virus that comes from the same family as the common cold and caused the outbreak of SARS about 17 years ago, that killed at least 774 people worldwide, including 44 in Canada.

With files from the Canadian Press.


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