GENEVA, February 14. /TASS/. The World Health Organization (WHO) has not put forward any recommendations regarding holding mass gatherings in the coming months amid the outbreak of a disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme Mike Ryan told a briefing in Geneva on Friday.
He responded to a question posed to him about Japan’s holding the Olympics in Tokyo. Ryan recalled that WHO is "constantly in touch with organizers of major events," adding that experts of the organization have been working at virtually every Olympics in the last two decades in terms of the risk management. "At this stage there has been no specific discussion or no specific decision made regarding any of those mass events in the coming months," he said, underlining that WHO stands ready to offer member states and organizing agencies its support and expertise.
Ryan explained that WHO role is not to "call off or not call off any event, it is the role of WHO to offer technical advice, to support a considerate multi-layered risk assessment around the event, to offer advice on risk reduction and risk mitigation measures, to offer advice on risk response measures." He emphasized, "It is the decision of hosting countries and organizing agencies to make that decision" to go ahead with the event or not.
Earlier, Reuters published comments of John Coates, a member of the International Olympic Commission (IOC) Coordination Commission for the Olympics in Tokyo. According to him, WHO told the IOC that there are no reasons to cancel or reschedule the Games. Tokyo is set to hold the Olympics between July 24 and August 9.
A pneumonia outbreak caused by the COVID-19 virus (previously called 2019-nCoV) was reported in China’s city of Wuhan - a large trade and industrial center in central China populated by 11 million people - in late December. The WHO declared it a global emergency, describing the outbreak as an epidemic with multiple foci.
The virus spread to 24 more countries, apart from China: Australia, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, India, Italy, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam. The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak in China a global health emergency. Chinese authorities have confirmed more than 63,800 cases of the disease, over 1,300 people died, while over 6,700 people are reported to have recovered.