Coronavirus declared global health emergency by WHO

The new coronavirus has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization, as the outbreak continues to spread outside China

The new coronavirus has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization, as the outbreak continues to spread outside China.

"The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The concern is that it could spread to countries with weaker health systems.

China has said it will send charter plans to bring back Hubei province residents who are overseas "as soon as possible".

A foreign ministry spokesman said this was because of the "practical difficulties" Chinese citizens have faced abroad. Hubei is where the virus emerged.

At least 213 people in China have died from the virus, mostly in Hubei, with almost 10,000 cases nationally.

The WHO said there had been 98 cases in 18 other countries, but no deaths. Most international cases are in people who had been to Wuhan in Hubei.

However in eight cases - in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the United States - patients were infected by people who had travelled to China.

Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, Tedros described the virus as an "unprecedented outbreak" that has been met with an "unprecedented response".

He praised the "extraordinary measures" Chinese authorities had taken and said there was no reason to limit trade or travel to China. Let me be clear, this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China," he said.

But various countries have taken steps to close borders or cancel flights, and companies like Google, Ikea, Starbucks and Tesla have closed their shops or stopped operations.

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How is China handling the outbreak?

A confirmed case in Tibet means the virus has reached every region in mainland China. According to the country's National Health Commission, 9,692 cases have tested positive.

The central province of Hubei, where nearly all deaths have occurred, is in a state of lockdown. The province of 60 million people is home to Wuhan, the heart of the outbreak.

The city has effectively been sealed off and China has put numerous transport restrictions in place to curb the spread of the virus.

People who have been in Hubei are also being told to work from home until it is considered safe for them to return.

The virus is affecting China's economy, the world's second-largest, with a growing number of countries advising their citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to the country.

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