World scientists meet to fight novel coronavirus

In a tweet this morning, the organisation said the virus has been named Covid-19.

China's coronavirus outbreak poses a "very grave threat for the rest of the world" and should be viewed as "Public Enemy Number 1", the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on the world to act and warned that "a virus is more powerful in creating political, economic, and socialist upheaval than any terrorist attack".

Tedros said the name had been chosen to avoid references to a specific geographical location, animal species or group of people in line with global recommendations for naming in order to avoid stigmatisation.

On Tuesday, World Health Organization officials urged countries to seize on the "window of opportunity" and respond strongly to the new coronavirus before worldwide cases increased.

World Health Organization declared the outbreak on January 30 a global emergency after the Chinese central government blocked 60 million people in Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus that appeared in a fish market in December.

"If we invest now, we have a realistic chance of stopping this outbreak", Ghebreyesus said.

"Bruce and his colleagues will be working with their Chinese counterparts to make sure we have the right expertise on the team to answer the right questions", Tedros said.

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At least 60 million people in central China are in a government-ordered lockdown aimed at halting the spread of the virus and health authorities around the world are racing to track down the contacts of infected people and isolate confirmed cases.

A British man dubbed a "super-spreader" of the virus spoke for the first time on Tuesday (local time), saying his thoughts are with those affected as he remains quarantined in a London hospital despite fully recovering.

Over 1,000 people in China have died after contracting the virus, which has sickened over 43,000 others globally.

JPMorgan analysts downgraded forecasts for Chinese growth this quarter, saying the outbreak had "completely changed the dynamics" of its economy. A small mission was sent to Wuhan mid-January, and the Director-General visited in January.

Several companies and institutes in Australia, China, France, Germany and the United States are racing to develop a vaccine - a process that normally takes years. So far, China's National Health Commission has reported 42,638 confirmed cases - out of which 2,478 were reported on Tuesday alone.

"I hope this outbreak or this event may be over in something like April", added Zhong, 83, an epidemiologist who won fame for his role in combating an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003. The vast majority of deaths and infections are in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province.

China's deadly coronavirus has spread around the world.

  • Sonia Alvarado