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WHO lauds Chinese response to coronavirus, says world ‘at important juncture’

FILE PHOTO: Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) attends a news conference on the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland May 3, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) praised China on Wednesday for its efforts to tackle the new coronavirus outbreak and expressed optimism that the transmission could be halted.

“We are at an important juncture in this event. We believe these chains of transmission can still be interrupted,” said Mike Ryan, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme who accompanied the body’s chief on a trip to China this week.

“They are taking extraordinary measures in the face of what is an extraordinary challenge,” he said, referring to China.

The Geneva-based body will reconvene its Emergency Committee on Thursday, the third time in a week, to evaluate whether the coronavirus outbreak now constitutes an international emergency.

The committee, comprising 16 independent experts, twice last week declined to declare a global emergency.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the decision to reconvene was based partly on evidence of human-to- human transmission outside its epicentre in China, a trend he described as worrying.

“I would praise China again and again because its actions helped prevent the spread of coronavirus to other countries,” he added, echoing Ryan’s comments.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge; Editing by Gareth Jones

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