DETROIT – The World Health Organization said a viral illness in China that has sickened hundreds of people is not yet a global health emergency.
That decision came down after two days of meetings over the newly identified coronavirus. The declaration of a global emergency typically brings greater money and resources, but may also prompt nervous foreign governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries.
Chinese authorities have locked down three cities and canceled major events in the capital Beijing during this lunar new year holiday period in an attempt to contain the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning against non-essential travel to China. The government in China has sealed off at least three cities, halting flights, trains and public transit. The virus has killed at least 17 people and sickened more than 600, including a Seattle-area man who is recovering in an isolation unit.
Health officials are monitoring 16 people who had close contact with him since he returned to the Seattle-area from visiting family in Wuhan last week. The CDC is working to get ahead of the virus, developing a real-time test for those who show symptoms that include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
A study released Thursday raised the possibility that the new coronavirus may have originated in snakes. That’s based on a genetic analysis of the virus.