World Health Organization Declares Global Emergency Over Coronavirus From China

Coronavirus Generic - Getty - H 2020
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To date, China has reported more than 7,800 cases, including 170 deaths.

The World Health Organization on Thursday declared the outbreak sparked by a new virus in China that has been exported to more than a dozen countries as a global emergency after the number of cases spiked tenfold in a week.

The U.N. health agency defines an international emergency as an "extraordinary event" that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

China first informed WHO about cases of the new virus in late December. To date, China has reported more than 7,800 cases, including 170 deaths. Eighteen other countries have since reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

Experts say there is significant evidence the virus is spreading among people in China and have noted with concern several instances in other countries — including Japan, Germany, Canada and Vietnam — where there have also been isolated cases of human-to-human transmission.

A declaration of a global emergency typically brings greater money and resources, but may also prompt nervous governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries. The announcement also imposes more disease reporting requirements on countries.