(WWLP) – The World Health Organization has declared a public health emergency due to the concern over the global outbreak of coronavirus.
Director of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement on Twitter Thursday afternoon.
“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries,” Ghebreyesus said. “Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it.”
The WHO reports that there are now 7,834 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 99 percent of those cases being in China. All 170 coronavirus-related deaths have happened in China.
According to the WHO, there are nearly 100 cases of coronavirus in 18 countries outside of China, including eight cases of human-to-human transmission.
The first human-to-human transmission of coronavirus in the U.S. was announced Thursday by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Previously, all confirmed U.S. cases had been in connection with travel to Wuhan, China.
Here in western Massachusetts, UMass Amherst has suspended their study abroad program in China.
In a statement to 22News UMass Amherst said in part:
This impacts seven students who will be offered other programs abroad or the option to stay on the Amherst campus this semester. The students were set to study in Shanghai and Beijing.
The college also said they have two graduate students and two faculty members traveling in China right now. None of them have reported symptoms so far.
Logan Airport in Boston announced Tuesday night they will now be screening passengers for the coronavirus. They are one of 20 airports across the country to do so.