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Coronavirus: WHO emergency committee set to meet as death toll rises

The respiratory virus has already claimed the lives of at least 170 people, while more than 6,000 people are infected.

This undated handout picture courtesy of the British Health Protection Agency shows the coronavirus seen under an electron microscope. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) emergency committee is on Thursday expected to meet in Switzerland and announce whether the outbreak constitutes a global public health emergency.

The respiratory virus has already claimed the lives of at least 170 people, while more than 6,000 people are infected.

Earlier this month, a causative pathogen was identified as a novel coronavirus, after a cluster of pneumonia cases were reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus will reconvene an emergency committee on Thursday.

He’s to get an update on the severity of the coronavirus outbreak. There have been calls for the body to declare a global emergency.

If this is the case, recommendations will be made on how to treat and curb the spread of the virus.

Ghebreyesus has tweeted most of the more than 6,000 confirmed cases are in China.

Sixty-eight other cases have been picked in other countries. With the death toll climbing, the organisation can’t afford to waste any more time in stepping up its response.