WHO / CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

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23-Jan-2020 00:04:17
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the respiratory disease Novel Coronavirus, is not yet an official Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) but warned that it is an emergency in China. WHO

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STORY: WHO / CORONAVIRUS UPDATE
TRT: 04:17
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

DATELINE: 23 JANUARY 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

1. Various shots, exterior, WHO Headquarters
2. Med shot, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros, Dr Didier Houssin, Chairperson of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, and Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme at the dais
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO:
“I'm not declaring a public health emergency of international concern today. As it was yesterday, the emergency committee was divided over whether the outbreak of novel coronavirus represents a PHEIC or not. Make no mistake. This is – though -- an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.”
4. Med shot, journalists
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO:
“584 cases have now been reported to WHO, including 17 deaths. 575 of those cases, and all of the deaths have been reported in China. With other cases reported in Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United States of America and Vietnam. We are aware of media reports of suspected cases in other countries, but those cases are still being investigated.”
6. Med shot, journalists
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO:
“China has taken measures it believes appropriate to contain the spread of coronavirus in Wuhan and other cities. We hope that they will be both effective and short in their duration. For the moment, WHO does not recommend any broader restrictions on travel or trade. We recommend exit screening at airports as part of a comprehensive set of containment measures. All countries should have in place measures to detect cases of coronavirus, including at health facilities.”
8. Med shot, journalists
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
“We do have the data to construct the epidemic curve. And at this point, when you look at it from the perspective of suspect and confirmed cases, the outbreak is still evolving. We're not at a position to say that the epidemic has peaked. The outbreak is still evolving. However, having that information allows us now to track on a daily basis along with and in partnership with China. And again, we're grateful for that partnership. And again, it must be said, in many of these situations in the past, countries haven't been prepared to share that detail of data.”
10. Med shot, journalists
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
“We have to be very, very careful at the beginning of an epidemic in making any pronouncements around the true severity of an epidemic, because, it can work both ways. At the moment, we haven't seen many mild cases. As we detect more mild cases, then effectively the severity may decrease because there are more mild cases in proportion to severe cases, and that may do it. We also need to be careful in that many people are very sick in hospital right now and more may die in the coming days, and the number of deaths may increase. And that may give the impression of an increased severity. So, it's extremely important that we stick to the facts. The facts are 17 people have died and their families grieve them this evening. That is the fact of the matter.”
12. Med shot, WHO staff
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
“We've seen this with other diseases like dengue and cholera in the past. The system itself, the health system may come under pressure as many worried, well, and people who think they have the disease, come. So, we need to also manage the pressure on the health system so the system can continue to function and triage patients appropriately.”
14. Med shot, WHO staff

STORYLINE:

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) today (23 Jan) declared that the respiratory disease Novel Coronavirus, is not yet an official Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) but warned that it is an emergency in China.

However, after two days of deliberations, the WHO Emergency Committee, which advises the head of the agency, was divided on whether to declare a PHEIC.

WHO’s Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, in a press conference held in Geneva, said, “I'm not declaring a public health emergency of international concern today. As it was yesterday, the emergency committee was divided over whether the outbreak of novel coronavirus represents a PHEIC or not. Make no mistake. This is – though -- an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.”

Tedros said that as of Thursday evening, 584 cases have now been reported to WHO, including 17 deaths. The vast majority of cases, 575, have been reported in China.

Cases have also been reported in Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United States of America and Vietnam, with further possible cases being investigated in other countries; among them, the United Kingdom.

The WHO chief said, “China has taken measures it believes appropriate to contain the spread of coronavirus in Wuhan and other cities. We hope that they will be both effective and short in their duration. For the moment, WHO does not recommend any broader restrictions on travel or trade. We recommend exit screening at airports as part of a comprehensive set of containment measures. All countries should have in place measures to detect cases of coronavirus, including at health facilities.”

More cases are expected in China, despite the actions taken by the Chinese authorities to control the outbreak. The country has succeeded in isolating and sequencing the virus and has shared those genetic sequences with WHO and the international community.

WHO’s Executive Director for the Health Emergencies Programme, Michael Ryan, said, “we do have the data to construct the epidemic curve. And at this point, when you look at it from the perspective of suspect and confirmed cases, the outbreak is still evolving. We're not at a position to say that the epidemic has peaked. The outbreak is still evolving.”

Ryan said, “we have to be very, very careful at the beginning of an epidemic in making any pronouncements around the true severity of an epidemic, because, it can work both ways. At the moment, we haven't seen many mild cases. As we detect more mild cases, then effectively the severity may decrease because there are more mild cases in proportion to severe cases, and that may do it. We also need to be careful in that many people are very sick in hospital right now and more may die in the coming days, and the number of deaths may increase. And that may give the impression of an increased severity. So, it's extremely important that we stick to the facts. The facts are 17 people have died and their families grieve them this evening. That is the fact of the matter.”

Ryan said, “the health system may come under pressure as many worried, well, and people who think they have the disease, come. So, we need to also manage the pressure on the health system so the system can continue to function and triage patients appropriately.”

A statement released by WHO soon after the press conference, noted that the Committee members agree on the urgency of the situation, and suggested the Committee should be reconvened “in a matter of days” to examine the situation further.

The Committee made a number of recommendations regarding measures to control the outbreak. Its members advised WHO to provide information to the international community via an international multidisciplinary operation, in order to enhance understanding of the situation and its public health impact.

The Chinese authorities were encouraged in the statement to provide more information on the ways they are managing the risk of further cases, and to work with the WHO and other partners to better understand the evolution of the outbreak.

All countries, recommends the Committee, should be prepared to contain the virus, through active surveillance, early detection, isolation, case management, and prevention of onward spread of infection, and to share full data with WHO.
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