How Wuhan outbreak became sixth global health emergency in 10 years

News: The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak in China as a public health emergency of international concern.



  • These are viruses belonging to a family known as Coronaviridae. They are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people
  • They cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Novel Coronavirus:

  •  It is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. 2019-nCoV, had not previously detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
  • Transmission: It is a respiratory virus that spreads primarily through contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets.
  • Symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Public Health Emergency

  • Defined as an extraordinary event that constitutes a public health risk to other States through the international spread of the disease and potentially requires a coordinated international response.
  • Declared under International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) by Director-General of the WHO
  • Previous Declarations:

o   H1N1 Influenza-2009

o   Polio-2014

o   Ebola-2014 and 2019

o   Zika Virus: 2016

Additional Information:

International Health Regulations (IHR 2005)

  •  Aim: prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease
  •  Legally binding international law on 196 states and countries must report events of international public health importance
  • Entered into force in 2007


  • Assist countries to work together to save lives and livelihoods endangered by the international spread of diseases and other health risks
  • Avoid unnecessary interference with international trade and travel.