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News & Trends - Biotechnology

Coronavirus holds very grave world threat: WHO

Health Industry Hub | February 13, 2020 |

China’s coronavirus outbreak poses a “very grave threat for the rest of the world”, the head of the World Health Organisation says.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday launched an appeal for sharing virus samples and speeding up research into drugs and vaccines to combat the epidemic.

He was addressing the start of a two-day meeting aimed at accelerating development of drugs, diagnostics and vaccines against the flu-like virus amid growing concerns about its ability to spread.

To date China has reported 42,708 confirmed cases, including 1017 deaths, Tedros said.

“With 99 per cent 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,” he told more than 400 researchers and national authorities.

Tedros, speaking to reporters, referred to “some concerning instances of onward transmission from people with no travel history to China”, citing cases this week in France and Britain.

Five British nationals were diagnosed with the coronavirus in France after staying in the same ski chalet with a person who had been in Singapore.

“The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire. But for now it’s only a spark. Our objective remains containment,” he said.

Hong Kong residents evacuated from a residential building where a man and woman confirmed with coronavirus live had tested negative, authorities said, easing concerns of a cluster.

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Many questions remain about the origin of the virus, which emerged at a wildlife market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December and is spread by coughing or sneezing.

“We hope one of the outcomes of this meeting will be an agreed roadmap for research around which researchers and donors will align,” Tedros told the meeting.

“The bottom line is solidarity, solidarity, solidarity. That is especially true in relation to sharing of samples and sequences,” Tedros said.

“To defeat this outbreak, we need open and equitable sharing, according to the principles of fairness and equity.”

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