Wuhan, China: (HRNW) China locked down some 20 million people at the epicentre of a deadly virus outbreak on Thursday, but the World Health Organization said the disease did not yet constitute a global health emergency.
The respiratory virus has claimed 18 lives since emerging from a seafood and animal market in the central city of Wuhan, infected hundreds of other people and been detected as far away as the United States.
The new virus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
But after two days of talks to determine the level of global concern, the World Health Organization on Thursday stopped short of declaring a so-called a public health emergency of international concern — declaration used for the gravest epidemics.
“This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.