The World Health Organization reassessed the risk of China’s deadly novel coronavirus. It said in a situation report late Sunday that the risk was “very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level”. The report corrected previous report on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that the global risk was “moderate.”
The virus, which killed 81 Chinese, has infected more than 2,700 people worldwide, including a few cases identified in more than a dozen other countries.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is visiting China this week to discuss ways to contain the outbreak. He faced intense questioning from reporters on Thursday over his decision not to declare the emergency. Some journalists even questioned whether there were political reasons for the decision.
But the revision to the global risk assessment does not mean an international health emergency has been declared.
“The novel coronavirus is now an emergency in China, but not yet a global health emergency,” Tedros said at the briefing at WHO headquarters. But he also said that the designation could be changed at any moment, and the risk of global contagion is “high”.
The Geneva-based UN agency has been criticized in past assessments of some worldwide epidemic.
The rash use of a “deadly pandemic” in the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic triggered panic buying of vaccines. It killed 11,300 people because it downplayed the severity of the Ebola epidemicoutbreak in 2014.
Reporting: A Bing