The World Health Organization (WHO) is holding a crucial emergency meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the novel coronavirus outbreak in China. The UN body will decide if the outbreak of a new Chinese strain of coronavirus — cousin of the devastating SARS virus — is “a public health emergency of international concern”.

Such a declaration would be significant. It means the WHO thinks immediate and coordinated international action may be needed to contain the infectant, which has caused nine deaths in China and caused hundreds to fall sick across Asia. Cases have been reported in several places outside China, including Japan and the United States. India has already issued a travel warning. Several countries have also started screening travellers from China to detect symptoms of the infection.

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