World Health Organization experts to meet to set coronavirus research agenda

Elias Hubbard
February 6, 2020

Filipino Catholics pray over lit candles wearing protective masks following confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

The spread of a new coronavirus in mainland China and to 27 countries and regions beyond is alarming health experts. "$60 million of that is to fund WHO's operations - the rest is for the countries that are especially at risk", said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a press briefing at Geneva, Switzerland.

World Health Organization assessment of the current status of the disease indicates that the outbreak poses a very high risk in China, and high risk regionally and globally.

Many of those with the new virus who have died had pre-existing medical conditions or were elderly, those with weakened immune systems.

It also concluded that the outbreak begs for accelerated action, to address the risks and deaths the disease poses to the world.

The rapid spread of a new coronavirus in China is alarming health experts.

The CDC says an epidemic is an "increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area".

This photo taken on February 4, 2020 shows a medical staff member (left) taking samples from a person to be tested for the new coronavirus at a quarantine zone in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, in China's central Hubei province. 498 samples are referred from suspected cases throughout the country. However, the implementation varies from state to state.

"Our message to the global community is invest today or pay more later", Dr Tedros said, adding that the funding appeal was "much less than the bill we will have to pay if we do not invest in preparedness now". While the country is responding swiftly to tackle health emergencies, there are a few key challenges such as laboratory systems across many states remain weak, which make it hard to quickly and accurately diagnose at-threat populations.

The World Health Organisation last week designated the coronavirus - whose scientific name is 2019-nCoV - a "public-health emergency of worldwide concern". It is required bringing the private practitioners into disease surveillance network, who cater to a major section of its population. As part of this, Government along with its partners is continuously working to build the health infrastructure in case of any health emergencies. "There is a need to invest and strengthen vaccine development capacities", said Sikka.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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