Hours after India confirmed its first positive case of novel coronavirus on Thursday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
“The Ministry is in close touch with WHO and we have been informed that the announcement has come not just because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries. The virus is now in 21 countries including India,” said a senior Health Ministry official.
The WHO declaration — officially called a Public Health Emergency of International Concern — serves notice to all United Nations member states that the world’s top health advisory body rates the situation as serious.
The decision was announced in a statement issued after the second meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus 2019.
“The Health Ministry has announced an alert at all ports and now everyone with travel history to China from January 15 will have to undergo tests for the virus. Additional measures may be announced later in the day,” he added.
So far, India has screened 43,346 passengers arriving from China and one positive case has been detected. China on Thursday saw 38 new deaths due to the virus, taking the death toll to 170 worldwide.