Coronavirus: WHO call global public health emergency

China said on Thursday the total number of deaths from coronavirus had risen to 170

BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 30: Chinese children wear plastic bottles as makeshift homemade protection and protective masks while waiting to check in to a flight at Beijing Capital Airport on January 30, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 7000 in mainland China Thursday as the country continued to lock down the city of Wuhan in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities put travel restrictions on the city which is the epicentre of the virus and neighbouring municipalities affecting tens of millions of people. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 170 on Thursday, mostly in Hubei province, and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and France. The World Health Organization  has warned all governments to be on alert, and its emergency committee is to meet later on Thursday to decide whether to declare a global health emergency. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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The World Health Organisation on Thursday declared the coronavirus epidemic an international public health emergency, as another 38 patients were announced to have died.

The designation is rarely used and could lead to improved international co-ordination in tackling the disease.

"Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

"This is not a vote of no confidence in China."

China said on Thursday that the number of deaths from coronavirus had risen to 170, with cases confirmed in every province and region in the country.

More than 7,700 people have fallen sick in mainland China, with another 68 cases reported around the world.

The WHO met on Thursday to decide whether to declare an emergency, having convened twice last week when it decided it did not have enough information to make the call.