Coronavirus has been Declared a Global Health Emergency by the WHO

The virus has killed 170 in China with cases worldwide spreading fast.
Trevor English

There has been a lot of talk and fear about the coronavirus in recent weeks, but things don't seem to be getting better. In fact, the coronavirus has just been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization, or WHO. 

WHO Chief Tedros Ghebreyesus made note that this declaration isn't strongly correlated to the Chinese outbreak, but rather what's occurring with the virus in other parts of the world. 

Countries with well-established health systems, like the U.S. or the UK, will likely be able to handle the massive influx of patients from the coronavirus, but less established countries likely will not. 


The death toll worldwide is at 171 people, notably though, those deaths have only occured in China. Outside of China, there have been 98 cases in 18 different countries. Luckily, there have been no deaths outside of China at this point.

Globally, there are 7,834 confirmed cases. 

The spread of the coronavirus between humans

Earlier today, the first human to human transmission of coronavirus in the U.S. was confirmed. This makes the United States the fifth country where the virus is now confirmed to be spreading between humans. 

Nearly all of the cases at this point are from people who have traveled to the Chinese city of Wuhan. However, now that there are cases of the virus spreading to humans in countries around the world, that will cease to be true within the coming days. 

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The other countries where the virus is spreading between humans are Germany, Japan, Vietnam, and of course, China.

What does the WHO declaration mean?

The WHO declares public health emergencies when there is "an extraordinary event which is determined – to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease".

For perspective, the WHO has declared global public health emergencies in the past for Swine Flu in 2009, Polio in 2014, Zika in 2016, and Ebola in 2014 & 2019.

The largest killer of those past emergencies being the Swine flu, killing 200,000 people worldwide. 

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