Healthcare

World Health Organization calls coronavirus ‘grave threat’ globally

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The global director of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that the disease presents a “very grave threat for the rest of the world” after the death toll in China passed 1,000 on Monday.

At a press conference Tuesday in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on major world powers to come together and battle “a common enemy that does not respect borders or ideologies.”

“With 99 percent of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world,” Ghebreyesus said, according to a transcript.

“It’s a test of political solidarity — whether the world can come together to fight a common enemy that does not respect borders or ideologies,” he added. “It’s a test of financial solidarity — whether the world will invest now in fighting this outbreak, or pay more later to deal with its consequences.”

The WHO director’s remarks come as U.S. health officials reported the 13th case of a new form of coronavirus suspected to be behind the Wuhan outbreak in China in a U.S. citizen, though no deaths have been reported in the U.S. The vast majority of cases and deaths have been in China, where the virus is thought to have originated at a seafood and animal market.

President Trump indicated last week that he believes Chinese authorities have the virus under control, even as thousands of people have reportedly been sickened with the disease and a vaccine has yet to be synthesized.

“President Trump expressed confidence in China’s strength and resilience in confronting the challenge of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak,” a White House spokesman said following a conversation between Trump and China’s Xi Jinping. “The two leaders agreed to continue extensive communication and cooperation between both sides.”

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