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On Thursday afternoon, Jan. 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared on its Twitter page that the 2019-nCoV virus, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, is now a public health emergency of international concern because of the global outbreak.

On Thursday, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, said, “The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries. Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it.

“Let me be clear: this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China. On the contrary, WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak.

“In total, there are now 7,834 confirmed #2019nCoV cases, including 7,736 in China, representing almost 99 percent of all reported cases worldwide. 170 people have lost their lives to this outbreak, all of them in China,” Ghebreyesus said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and the CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available.

The CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak of the respiratory illness that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which continues to expand.

Infections with 2019-nCoV, most of them associated with travel from Wuhan, also are being reported in a growing number of international locations, including the United States. The United States reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread with this virus on Jan. 30, 2020.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal

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coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS and SARS.

Imported cases of 2019-nCoV infection in people have been detected in the U.S. While person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected with this virus, at this time this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.

While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat:

• For everyone: It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and CDC recommends getting vaccinated, taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.

• For healthcare professionals: Be on the look-out for people with travel history to China and fever and respiratory symptoms.

If you are a healthcare professional caring a 2109-nCoV patient, please take care of yourself and follow recommended infection control procedures.

• For people who may have 2019-nCoV infection: Please follow CDC guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others.

• For travelers: Stay up to date with CDC’s travel health notices related to this outbreak.

Sources: who.int, cdc.gov

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