Coronavirus: WHO warn to ‘be on alert and ready’ as deadly virus spreads across Europe

The spread and infection rate of the coronavirus has caused concern in the World Health Organisation. WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris insisted countries across the globe should be on alert to deal with the deadly disease. During an interview on Radio 4’s Today Programme the WHO spokesperson was asked would anything change in the advice the specialised agency was giving if the organisation dubbed the deadly virus a pandemic. 

She answered: “No it wouldn’t, we have already said to everybody be on the alert and be ready.

“We are already making it clear and working very closely and strongly with a lot of countries to prepare.

“So, the very first thing we did when we knew we had this virus in our human population was identify the countries with the weakest health systems.

“This is because those countries will struggle to look after people with the severest illness so no it wouldn’t really change anything.” 

Dr Harris added: “We don’t really get hung up on categories at the WHO.

“But the WHO is saying the coronavirus is beyond China and in other countries.

“We are concerned about that situation.” 

The European Union has come under fire for their plan to deal with the coronavirus outbreak as more patients are confirmed to have the deadly virus. 

Ally of Angela Merkel, Jens Spahn, hit out at the EU’s policy that individual members states act independently in dealing with the crisis because it meant many would continue allowing freedom of movement.

At a meeting of health ministers this month, he called on the EU to “take responsibility” and provide a plan for the bloc.

He said: “I would also like the World Health Organisation’s request for financial aid to not only be answered by countries, but also that the EU takes on some responsibility with its own budgetary resources.”

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Despite the spread of the coronavirus leading to deaths in Italy, the EU’s Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides has rejected the idea that coronavirus fears warrant restrictions on travel or trade.

She said today: “For the moment WHO has not advised imposing restrictions on either travel or trade.”

At least 152 people have been infected with coronavirus in Italy with four people dying in the last two days.

Some towns in the Lombardy region – located in the north of the country – are in a state of lockdown as lawmakers attempt to stop the virus spreading.

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