AHF Urges WHO to Immediately Declare Novel Coronavirus an International Health Emergency

With the deadly novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) originating in China and spreading to fifteen other countries, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urges the World Health Organization (WHO) to immediately declare the virus a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

"It is absurd that WHO does not consider the new coronavirus an international threat," said AHF President Michael Weinstein. "With the criticism WHO has faced before in dealing with Ebola, it’s clearly better to be safe than sorry. The world is at risk and once again this is a reminder that we desperately need a global convention on public health to be better prepared for deadly outbreaks. We urge WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to not waste time and immediately declare the coronavirus a PHEIC."

Since the WHO emergency committee met on January 22 and 23—when it decided it would not declare the 2019-nCoV a global public health emergency—the number of those infected has jumped from 557 to nearly 3,000, with 16 countries total reporting cases. Chinese authorities also reported new data that showed increases in total cases, suspected cases, affected provinces and the mortality rate (4%), according to WHO.

The 2019-nCoV has so far been responsible for 81 deaths and meets the conditions for a PHEIC to be declared, as it is a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease and potentially requires a coordinated international response.

"In addition to an immediate emergency declaration, we call on the UN Security Council to be convened to act on this crisis, as it should in response to any major outbreak," added Weinstein. "AHF operates in 43 countries, including in China and seven others that have seen infected patients – we know firsthand what happens when infectious disease outbreaks devastate entire communities. All options should be considered to contain the outbreak and help those who have been impacted."

The cause of the 2019-nCoV has not yet been established, but many patients were reportedly linked to a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan, China, suggesting the virus likely emerged from an animal source and is now spreading person-to-person.

For more information, please contact Ged Kenslea at gedk@aidshealth.org or (323) 791-5526

About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.3 million people in 43 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.

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Ged Kenslea, Senior Director, Communications, AHF
+1 323 308 1833 work +1.323.791.5526 mobile

Denys Nazarov, Director of Global Policy &
Communications, AHF