World Health Assembly closes with concern over novel coronavirus
World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan addressed participants at the closing ceremony, thanking delegates for their productivity and efficiency during debates on a range of new public health measures and recommendations. She also alerted attendees to a new threat that she said requires urgent international attention.
"Looking at the overall global situation, my greatest concern right now is the novel coronavirus," Chan said. "We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat. Any new disease that is emerging faster than our understanding is never under control. These are alarm bells and we must respond. The novel coronavirus is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself. The novel coronavirus is a threat to the entire world."
The outbreak of novel coronavirus, also known as MERS-CoV, demonstrated the relevance of discussions on the International Health Regulations. The delegates at the assembly voiced widespread support for the IHR. Chan said the WHO was committed to supporting countries affected by the virus and getting rid of barriers in the way of full IHR implementation.
Speakers emphasized the need for countries to provide the necessary resources to make sure IHR work can continue continue in countries and at the WHO.