WHO Says Prepare for Local Outbreaks; China Slams US Control

WHO Says Prepare for Local Outbreaks; China Slams US Control

On Thursday, the organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) partly because human-to-human transmission of the virus had occurred outside China.

China's government criticised the measure, which it said contradicted the World Health Organization's appeal to avoid travel bans, and slammed "unfriendly comments" made by the U.S. that Beijing was failing to cooperate.

On Saturday two groups of stranded Hubei residents returned to China on chartered planes sent to Thailand and Malaysia by the Chinese government.

The number of infections in China also rose, by 2,102, bringing the nationwide total to 11,791.

The European Union and several countries have already flown their citizens out of China, including the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Jordan, Britain and most recently Sri Lanka, India and Turkey. But the CDC announced that the first USA case of human to human transmission occurred in a husband and wife in Chicago. None of the people aboard was suspected of infection but they all will be quarantined at a military base for two weeks as a precaution, according to the German Foreign Ministry.

China faced deepening isolation over its coronavirus epidemic today as the death toll soared to 259, with the United States leading a growing list of nations to impose extraordinary Chinese travel bans.

Amid growing worldwide concern, Singapore and the United States announced measures on Friday to restrict entry to foreign nationals who have recently been in China.

Another locked-down city in Hubei, Huanggang, on Saturday banned nearly all residents from leaving their homes in the most stringent controls imposed yet. But the moves run counter to the recommendation of the World Health Organization, which said on Thursday that it could demand scientific justification from countries that go beyond its guidance not to restrict travel.

Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd said the entry restrictions imposed by the United States and other countries had forced it to suspend its direct flights to China from February 9.

South Korea confirmed its sixth case of the deadly novel coronavirus which emerged last month in the city of Wuhan in China

SARS, which is caused by a pathogen similar to the new coronavirus and also originated in China, killed 774 people worldwide, majority in China or Hong Kong.

"We would want countries to focus on the mitigation efforts of identifying the possible importation of cases and responding to any domestic outbreak", China WHO representative Gauden Galea told Reuters on Saturday. The UK, US, Russia and Germany have all confirmed cases in recent days.

AFP understands that both had travelled to China recently.

Papua New Guinea, with limited resources to deal with a major public-health threat, has gone further than almost any other country: it has shut its air and seaports to all foreign travellers coming from Asia. The virus has also caused at least 213 deaths. It also urged Americans now in China to leave via commercial flights.

"The risk to the American public at this time is low", he said, acknowledging that officials continue to learn more about the virus every day.

Some countries are evacuating their citizens from the city of Wuhan, the epicenter the coronavirus outbreak.

Although scientists believe it originated with animals, the virus now seems to be spreading from person to person. Four friends who were hospitalized with him have not shown symptoms. The CDC said this was the first federal quarantine ordered since the 1960s, when there were fears of a smallpox outbreak.

What are the symptoms of this virus?

From left, acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli, Fauci, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield.

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