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WHO’s Global Health Emergency Declaration on Novel Coronavirus is a Meaningful Step


Today’s declaration by a World Health Organization emergency committee that the spread of a novel coronavirus across China and to a growing list of international locations constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern – a PHEIC -- is a pivotal step in ensuring a coordinated and comprehensive response to the threats posed by this outbreak.

The declaration of a PHEIC can enable extensive surveillance, accessible data, ready resources, ongoing research and collaborative evidence-based action that will be vital to containing and ameliorating the impacts of a quickly spreading virus, about which we still have much to learn. As WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has noted, the potential impacts of the spread of this new coronavirus in countries with weak health systems demand a united international effort. The possible spread to places where resource gaps would hinder detection and containment of this virus also highlights the critical importance of collaborative and well-supported global health security efforts.

“The membership of the Infectious Diseases Society of America strongly supports the decision of the emergency committee,” IDSA President Thomas File, M.D., FIDSA, MSc, said today. “We urge the international community of health responders and policy makers to seize this opportunity to work together, and we stand ready to lend our expertise and guidance to gaining understanding and control of this outbreak.”


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