Still think the Wuhan virus is too far to affect you?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has admitted an error in a statement made on Monday (27th January), that mistakenly downplayed the risk of assessment of the deadly Wuhan virus.
What was previously deemed a “moderate” level of risk was most recently changed to a “high” risk level. Following reports from CNA, the Geneva-based UN agency said that China’s deadly virus was not only “very high in China”, it is also “high at the regional level and high at the global level”.
While the WHO admitted that it had “incorrectly” labelled the global risk of the potentially life-threatening disease previously, the organisation still emphasises that the correction does not mean that an international health emergency has been declared.
Since the deadly virus was identified on 31st December in the city of Wuhan, China, there have been more than 4,000 people infected worldwide, with over 100 deaths to date.
On Thursday, they decidedly stopped short of announcing the novel coronavirus as a public health emergency of international concern as the rare declaration is only reserved for the world’s worst outbreaks that would trigger united global action.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the chief of WHO, came under intense questioning from reporters on Thursday when announcing this decision during his visit to China. Some reporters even asked whether the decision was politicised.
However, when he returned to the briefing at WHO headquarters, Tedros said the declaration could be changed at any moment. “This is an emergency in China but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one,” said the chief.
“WHO’s risk assessment is that the outbreak is a very high risk in China, and a high risk regionally and globally. [This categorisation] was a “global evaluation of risk, covering severity, spread and capacity to cope.”
While the agency apologised for its “error in the wording” in three of its situation reports, this isn’t the first time the World Health Organisation was criticised for its handling of these viral disease outbreaks.
In fact, WHO previously came under fire in 2014 when downplaying the severity of the Ebola epidemic that claimed more than 11,300 lives over three West Africa countries by the end of 2016.
Do you think WHO’s statement can be trusted this time? Let us know in the comments!
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