WHO plans another meeting of scientific experts Thursday on whether to recommend declaring the outbreak a global health emergency, which it defines as an "extraordinary event" that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated worldwide response.
"Many elderly in Wuhan seem to believe that the pandemic is not as serious as the government has described, so they were unwilling to put on masks".
"For that reason, I have made a decision to ask the emergency committee to meet again tomorrow to continue their discussion and the chair has agreed with that request", he said, at the meeting Wednesday. Chinese authorities initially played Sars cases down, and were subsequently much criticised because the virus spread virtually unchecked to 37 countries causing global panic, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing more than 750.
As for the risk of the virus coming to British Columbia, the Provincial Health Officer says it wouldn't be a surprise, but insists the province's health care system is prepared.
Staff members wearing masks monitor thermal scanners that detect temperatures of passengers at Hankou railway station in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Tuesday.
Guards were patrolling major highways, one resident told Reuters, although the shutdown notice had not mentioned private cars leaving the city, while videos on social media showed long queues at gas stations. At exactly 10 a.m., metal barriers blocked entrances while helpless would-be travellers were turned away, with some complaining they had nowhere to go. Japan has also confirmed one case.
Since health officials became aware of the virus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December previous year, a total of 17 people have died and 555 cases have been confirmed by Chinese health officials, according to a map updated by Johns Hopkins University.
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Residents have been advised not to leave, despite millions of Chinese travelling for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.
Conducting a detailed genetic analysis of the 2019-nCoV, and comparing it with those of different coronaviruses from various geographic locations and host species, the study found that the new virus formed from a combination of CoV found in bats, and another of unknown origin.
At present, the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus form in China has risen to at least 571.
Most cases outside China were people from Wuhan or who had recently traveled there.
Asked about Wuhan's transport shutdown, Tedros said: "By having a strong action not only will they control the outbreak in their country but they will also minimise the chances of this outbreak spreading internationally". People who experience symptoms may also hesitate to come forward because of the government's extreme measures to control the illness, she said.
But a senior US State Department official said Washington was "still concerned" about transparency in the Chinese government.