The evolving outbreak that began in China is “a sign that every country needs to be ready to timely detect and manage outbreaks of any type”, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday.
Virus infections have now been reported on four continents, including in Australia, France and the United States, among recent travelers to China. Several other countries in Asia have reported cases as well.
WHO’s Regional Office for Europe has officially been notified of the first novel #coronavirus cases in Europe. Three cases have been confirmed in France and WHO is in contact with the relevant authorities. WHO encourages countries in the European Region to continue to prepare.
— WHO/Europe (@WHO_Europe) January 25, 2020
On Friday, France officially notified the WHO Regional Office for Europe of three confirmed cases – two in Paris and one in Bordeaux. All of them had travelled from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, and are now hospitalized in France.
“Timely action is fundamental for early containment”, underscored WHO, commending France for quickly notifying WHO and rapidly issuing a public communication, saying that it not only exemplified the proper steps forward, but also illustrated “an example of global collaboration and solidarity”.
WHO maintained that the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Europe were not unexpected.
“They remind us that the global nature of travels exempts no country from infectious disease spread”, WHO stated. “This also means that no country can afford postponing the establishment of all necessary measures to protect their people”.
More than 1,300 cases have been confirmed worldwide, and 41 people have died, including a 62-year-old doctor at a Wuhan hospital who contracted the virus from a patient, according to State media.
At a time of uncertainty about how the virus originated and behaves, WHO spells out that “it is even more critical that countries, organizations and the international community act as one”.
“We need to move as one region, as one world in scaling up our ability to prepare and respond together”, said the statement.
“The time is now to make ourselves ready”, said WHO, adding that, together with Chinese authorities, it is doing everything it can to investigate the outbreak.
Although the virus’ behavior remains unpredictable, the UN health agency upheld that “today we are offered a window of opportunity; today we must grab it to make the region and the world safer”.