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Local health officials assure public after WHO declaration on coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 5:42 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 00:50:07-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Coronavirus is a “global health emergency.” The World Health Organization made the emergency declaration Thursday as the Wuhan coronavirus has spread around the world.

With new cases of the novel coronavirus popping up, the WHO took a significant step - calling the disease a public health emergency.

“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said.

It’s a step the WHO has taken only five other times since 2005 for major outbreaks like swine flu and the Zika virus.

RELATED: Health officials explain risk of coronavirus in Southern Nevada

Dr. Christina Madison, with Roseman University, says the declaration would help get resources to countries that don’t have health systems to cope with the disease.

“It’s really an abundance of caution as well as the fact that this virus is rapidly evolving,” she said.

Dr. Madison says the WHO made the declaration after weighing a few factors with the spread of the virus now at more than 8,000 cases, with more than 170 deaths.

“Obviously, the rapid spread of the virus, the fact that is affected multiple countries, and now it’s really spread globally,” she said.

The WHO says its declaration is not a criticism of how China has handled its response to the outbreak.

“On the contrary, WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Health officials in Clark County say there’s no need for alarm as the risk of transmission in the U.S. remains very low.

The Southern Nevada Health District says it’s taking the same precautions it has been taking since the coronavirus began spreading.

Dr. Madison says people should continue following guidelines preventing the spread of other viruses like the flu.

“Washing your hands. Making sure you’re staying away from anyone sick or ill,” Madison said.