• The last time WHO declared a global health emergency was in 2019 for the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo that killed more than 2,000 people.
  • The WHO declares a Public Health Emergency of International Concern when there is “an extraordinary event which is determined… to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease.”
  •  The agency also declared global emergencies for the 2016 Zika virus, the 2009 H1N1 swine flu, and the 2014 polio and Ebola outbreaks.

What does it mean?

  • Countries are reminded that they are legally required to share information with WHO under the IHR.
  • Any detection of 2019-nCoV in an animal (including information about the species, diagnostic tests, and relevant epidemiological information) should be reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as an emerging disease
  • All countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoVinfection, and to share full data with WHO.
  • Countries must inform WHO about any travel measures taken. Countries are cautioned against actions that promote stigma or discrimination, in line with the principles of Article 3 of the IHR.



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