GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Thursday (January 23) that it will decide whether to declare a global emergency for the outbreak of a new flu-like virus that is spreading inside and outside of China.
In this case, it is only the sixth international public health emergency that has been reported in the past decade.
"The decision is one that I take very seriously and can only be made with due consideration of all the evidence," said WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
"This is an evolving and complex situation," he added. "Our team in China is working with local experts and officials to investigate the outbreak."
He spoke after the WHO held a one-day meeting of an independent expert group in Geneva on Wednesday.
The number of deaths from China's new coronavirus rose to 17 on Wednesday, with more than 540 cases confirmed, increasing fears of infection from an infection suspected of being trafficked wildlife.
WHO head of emergency program, Mike Ryan, said that the priority now is to find the roots for the transmission of the virus between people.
"We agree with the Chinese authorities that they are clear and transparent about the evidence of human-to-human transmission," he said, adding, "The main problem is to limit human-to-human transmission . "
The previously unknown coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged from an animal market in downtown Wuhan, with cases now found in the United States.
Wuhan closes its transport network and advises citizens not to leave the city, the state media reported on Thursday.