Despite public worry about an emerging virus from Wuhan, China, the World Health Organization said Thursday that it was not yet a public health emergency of international concern.
WHO officials made the announcement following two days of emergency committee meetings of health experts on the virus.
The coronavirus has infected more than 600 people worldwide, though mostly in China. As of Jan. 23, Chinese authorities have reported 18 deaths from the virus so far.
Cases have been reported in China, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and the United States.
The virus causes a fever and, in some cases, difficulty breathing.
Declarations of a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” are relatively rare.
Only five emergencies have been declared in the past decade: the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, an Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, a polio outbreak in 2014, the Zika virus in 2016, and the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Emergency declarations lead to a boost of public health measures to contain the spread of the illness, as well as funding for the crisis.
— with files from Reuters