Story at a glance

  • Experts met Wednesday to evaluate the outbreak.
  • WHO reports there have been 555 cases and 17 deaths.
  • One case was confirmed in the state of Washington.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is expected to decide whether to declare a global emergency today over the outbreak of the new China-based coronavirus that has left hundreds sick and at least 17 dead.

“The decision is one I take extremely seriously and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, according to Reuters. 

“This is an evolving and complex situation,” he said. “Our team in China is working with local experts and officials to investigate the outbreak.” 

WHO held a day-long meeting of experts on the subject in Geneva on Wednesday. 

WHO says there have been 555 confirmed cases of the virus, which is believed to have originated from a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan, which is home to more than 11 million people. 

China announced on Wednesday that it is quarantining Wuhan, suspending public transportation and telling residents not to leave the city.

A case of the coronavirus has been confirmed in a patient just north of Seattle, and now airports in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York are screening passengers for the virus. 

If WHO decides to make the declaration, it will be the sixth international public health emergency to be declared in the last decade.

Published on Jan 22, 2020