he World Health Organization has officially declared the Wuhan coronavirus a global health emergency following an emergency meeting on Thursday.
Starting from a wet market in the Hubei capital last month, the virus has spread rapidly over the last two weeks causing more than 200 deaths and 9,000 infections in China, as of Friday morning.
In addition, more than 100 cases have been confirmed in 18 countries around the globe, from Thailand to Japan to France to India.
The WHO declaration comes soon after the US confirmed its first human-to-human transmission of the virus. Eight cases of human-to-human transmission have so far been confirmed outside of China, in Germany, Japan, and Vietnam as well as the US.
A number of countries have responded by enacting increasingly strict measures against travel from China.
Russia opted to close its land border with China, following in the footsteps of North Korea, which began barring all foreign tourists last week.
Meanwhile in Italy, thousands of people were confined to their cruise ship on Thursday as a couple from Hong Kong were being tested for the virus.
British Airways, Lufthansa, El Al, Alitalia, Swiss and Austrian Airlines are among some of the major international airlines that have canceled all flights to and from China.
The WHO designation allows the international health organization to mobilize financial and political support towards containing the outbreak — though it’s not yet clear what the first steps will be.
WHO officials have expressed their confidence with how China is handling the situation.