The World Health Organization announced Thursday that the outbreak of a deadly and fast-spreading strain of coronavirus constitutes a global health emergency.
"Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak and which has been met by an unprecedented response," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.
However, Tedros was adamant that "the main reason for the declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries. Let me be clear — this vote is not a declaration of no confidence in China." He said that the WHO is deeply concerned about what will happen if the virus begins spreading in countries with weak health systems and that the purpose of the declaration is to help those countries.
The declaration of a global health emergency can work to galvanize international funding. According to the
, the three criteria for such a declaration are that it is an "extraordinary event," that it "constitute[s] a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease" and that it "potentially require[s] a coordinated international response."