WHO director-general asks for global cooperation on novel coronavirus

Director-General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan said to the World Health Assembly on Tuesday that novel coronavirus is a worldwide threat that must be tackled with global cooperation.

"The novel coronavirus is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself," Chan said. "The novel coronavirus is a threat to the entire world."

Novel coronavirus, also known as nCoV and Saudi SARS, is a new type of coronavirus that was discovered in 2012. Saudi SARS is closely related to the more famous SARS, which has been labeled Hong Kong SARS to avoid confusion, and is believed to have originated with an unknown animal species.

SARS works by evading the innate immune responses and disrupting interferon production in the cells. The result is a severe acute pneumonia, which can eventually lead to renal failure and death.

"We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat," Chan said. "Any new disease that is emerging faster than our understanding is never under control. We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these question, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond."

The World Health Assembly also discussed public health issues and the anti-poverty targets. It adopted many resolutions on these issues, along with announcing a joint WHO mission with Saudi Arabia and Tunisia will take place as soon as possible.