The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak sparked by the coronavirus in China as a global emergency on Thursday, after the number of cases spiked more than tenfold in a week, while the death toll rose to 213.
The declaration comes now, he said, because of fears that the coronavirus may reach countries with weak health care systems, where it could run amok, potentially infecting millions of people and killing thousands.
Following the declaration, the State Department on Thursday night warned travelers to avoid China altogether.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said that the country “is fully confident and capable of winning the battle against this epidemic.”
In a statement on the ministry’s website, she added that China was willing to continue to work with the WHO and other countries to safeguard public health.
The WHO’s declaration — officially called a “public health emergency of international concern” — does not have the force of law.