WHO committee re-convenes on global threat of coronavirus

World Health Organisation (WHO) will on Thursday meet again to determine whether novel coronavirus is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Members of the WHO Emergency Committee deliberated until late on Wednesday evening, as they continue to study an outbreak of the new respiratory virus first identified in China, as cases continue to rise.

“There was an excellent discussion during the committee today, but it was also clear that to proceed, we need more information.

“The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence”, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in statement.

Novel coronavirus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

By Wednesday, there were more than 440 confirmed cases, and 17 reported deaths, almost doubling the death toll in the space of one day.

All of the deaths have occurred in Wuhan, which has a population of some 11 million, similar to that of the UK capital, London. Now the entire city, has in effect, been quarantined, according to news reports.

On Wednesday, the Chinese city of Macau reportedly confirmed its first case of Novel Coronavirus, and there have been cases in Thailand, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the US.

Several places have reportedly stepped up airport screening procedures for passengers arriving from Wuhan, including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the USA, Russian and Japan.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had advised Nigerians to protect themselves against the new Chinese coronavirus disease.

The NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, in a public health advisory stated that the sypmptoms of the new coronavirus 2019 (nCoV) appeared to cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like cough and breathing difficulties.

He noted that “from current evidence, it appears that death is a rare outcome, mostly in patients with underlying illness.”

Ihekweazu explained in the advisory that there was no specific treatment for disease caused by the novel coronavirus yet, but many of the symptoms could be treated.

He, however, advised Nigerians to adhere to the following measures to protect themselves:

-Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water

-Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.

-Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

-Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

-Healthcare workers should always observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients and take a travel history.

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