World Health Organization experts to meet to set coronavirus research agenda

World Health Organization experts to meet to set coronavirus research agenda

The outbreak took place in Wuhan in January and multiple countries have started evacuating their citizens from the country, and have chose to restrict the entry of foreigners returning from China.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters Thursday the United Nations health agency will be inviting scientists to identify research priorities and coordinate the effort to find effective drugs and vaccines.

Nevertheless, he emphasised that the overwhelming majority of circumstances are in China, and of these, 80% are in Hubei province, the place the virus was first detected within the metropolis of Wuhan. "They are aimed at people who have been diagnosed with the virus", he said.

About 99 percent of the more than 20,000 cases have been reported in mainland China.

The human rights group Amnesty International has urged governments to avoid violating human rights as they strive to contain and end the outbreak of a virus centered in China that has killed more than 560 people. "However, he said if China were to hide, it would expect a larger number of issues exported from China".

"While the virus is now concentrated in China, the WHO assesses that it may spread further and is a particular concern in regions where health systems could quickly be overwhelmed".

"The WHO Director-General pointed out that "$675 million is a lot of money, but it is much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now". Almost 230 cases have been reported in about 27 other countries and regions, a Reuters tally based on official statements shows.

"The overall goal of the strategic preparedness and response plan is to stop further transmission of 2019 nCoV within China and to other countries, and to mitigate the impact of the outbreak in all countries", it added.

He said an worldwide expert mission being organised by World Health Organization would be leaving for China "very, very soon".

Dr Mike Ryan, WHO's top emergencies expert, said it was very hard to make predictions on the course of the disease first reported in the central city of Wuhan in late December, noting: "We are still in the middle of an intense outbreak".

Filipino Catholics pray over lit candles wearing protective masks following confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines. World Health Organization officials also reiterated their opposition to restrictions placed on travelers from China by some countries.

- Almost 3,700 people face a two-week quarantine in their cabins on a cruise ship in the port city of Yokohama, Japan, while in Hong Kong, more than 3,600 people on another ship awaited screening after it was banned by Taiwan.

At least one more plane is expected to fly more American evacuees to military bases in Nebraska and Texas this week, The New York Times reported.

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