New Chinese virus not yet a global health emergency: WHO

A deadly virus outbreak that has prompted China to lock down some 20 million people does not yet constitute an international public health emergency, the World Health Organisation determined Thursday.

Commuters wearing face masks as a precautionary measure to protect against the possible spread of a SARS-like virus outbreak ride an escalator at an MTR subway station ahead of the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong on 23 January 2020. Picture: AFP

GENEVA - A deadly virus outbreak that has prompted China to lock down some 20 million people does not yet constitute an international public health emergency, the World Health Organisation determined Thursday.

"I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern today," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters after a two-day emergency meeting in Geneva on the virus.

"This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency," he said.

The head of the World Health Organisation on Thursday urged China to ensure transport lockdowns in several cities are "short in duration" as it tries to prevent the spread of a deadly virus.

"China has taken measures it believes appropriate to contain the spread of coronavirus in Wuhan and other cities. We hope that they will be both effective and short in their duration," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.