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WHO calls for $675 mln in donations to combat novel coronavirus outbreak

The WHO Director-General pointed out that "$675 million is a lot of money, but it is much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now"

GENEVA, February 5. /TASS/. The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the world to donate $675 million to combat the newly identified coronavirus 2019-nCoV, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said at a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.

The donations are needed for outbreak preparedness in the coming three months, he added.

"We are requesting US$675 million to fund the plan for the next three months," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said adding that on February 5, the WHO is "launching a strategic preparedness and response plan to fund and support countries to prevent, detect and diagnose onward transmission."

The WHO Director-General pointed out that "$675 million is a lot of money, but it is much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now."

"Once again, we cannot defeat this outbreak without solidarity - political solidarity, technical solidarity and financial solidarity," he emphasized explaining that about $60 million of that money would be for the WHO’s own operations, while the remainder would go to the countries that are "especially at risk" from the deadly virus.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus assured that the WHO was continuing to support China’s efforts against the 2019-nCoV virus outbreak with its epicenter located in the city of Wuhan.

The WHO head said that China is currently home to 99% of cases, with 80% of those in Hubei province. Outside China, 191 cases have been reported in 24 countries.

"But this is not a time for fear; this is not a time for panic. It’s is a time for rational, evidence-based action and investment while we still have a window of opportunity to bring this outbreak under control," he said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out that the WHO had released $9 million from its emergency financial reserves to help combat the epidemic. On February 5, the WHO’s Consultative Group, which addresses strategic and technical issues, discussed the problem. Moreover, a group of international experts, which will work under the WHO guidance, will fly to China in the coming days.

On December 31, 2019, the Chinese authorities reported to the World Health Organization about an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan, an economic and industrial metropolis with a population of 11 million. The virus - 2019-nCoV - was identified on January 7, 2020. Apart from China, 24 other countries, including Russia, have reported confirmed coronavirus cases. The World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, characterizing it as an epidemic with multiple locations. According to the latest reports, China has confirmed 24,300 cases of patients infected with the novel coronavirus. The virus’ death toll has now neared 500, yet more than 900 patients have recovered from the disease.