The World Health Organization has declared a "health emergency of international concern". You do not know what damage the virus will cause, it said.

After the increasing number of diseases caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an international health emergency. This is linked to tighter measures to combat the outbreak.

The number of infections outside of China is still relatively low, said WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The "biggest concern" is that the virus will spread to countries with less well-equipped health systems, he warned.

The decision is not a "vote of no confidence" against China. "We’re all in the same boat," he said. The virus can only be stopped together. "This is the time for facts, not fear."

WHO can declare a "health emergency of international concern" when a disease threatens several countries and a coordinated international response is required. The WHO member countries agreed on this in 2005. There have been five cases since then.

Christian Lindmeier, spokesman for the WHO, emphasized in the daily topics that there was still a lot of ambiguity about the virus. "We don’t know too much about the virus," he said. "If we don’t know about the virus, we can’t take countermeasures on a large scale." That is why global cooperation, which is called for by the WHO declaration, is so important.

SARS pandemic exceeded

Infections and deaths from the novel coronavirus in China have meanwhile recorded the largest increase in a day to date. The number of detected diseases rose to 9,692 around 1981, according to the Beijing Health Commission. The number of deaths rose by 42 to 213.

The outbreak of the "acute respiratory disease", as it is now officially called, already counts significantly more infections than the Sars pandemic 17 years ago with 8096 cases. At that time 774 people died from "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome" (Sars). The new 2019-nCoV pathogen is a variant of the Sars virus.

Rapid increase

With the first disease in Tibet, infections have now been detected in all regions and provinces of China. The increase is rapid. Two weeks ago, only 40 cases were counted. The peak of the epidemic is expected in a week at the earliest. Outside the People’s Republic, more than 100 infections have been counted in around 20 countries. So far there have been five confirmed cases in Germany.

Most recently, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also confirmed the first two coronavirus cases. Conte announced that air traffic between China and Italy would be blocked.