Why hasn’t the WHO declared a global emergency?

Don’t rule it out yet, but this is not a clear-cut decision.

After a full day of deliberations on Wednesday, the World Health Organization’s emergency committee was split on whether to declare a global emergency. Instead it is spending another day assessing the evidence.

The challenge is the facts are changing as scientists grapple with key questions such as how easily the coronavirus spreads from person to person and what is the true scale of the outbreak beyond those appearing in hospital.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said it was an “evolving and complex situation” and that “appropriate consideration of all the evidence” was needed.

There are three tests that need to be passed before declaring a public health emergency of international concern. It must be an “extraordinary event” with a risk of “international spread” that requires a “co-ordinated international response”.


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