30th January 2020
The WHO declares a Public Health Emergency of International Concern when there is "an extraordinary event which is determined … to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease".
In the past 10 years there has been 5 times that global public health emergencies have been declared.
Swine flu, 2009 -The H1N1 virus spread across the world in 2009, killing more than 200,000 people, and a public health emergency was called to ensure the world was carefully monitoring its spread and able to respond, including with vaccines.
Polio, 2014 - Although closer than ever to eradication in 2012, polio numbers rose in 2013. An emergency was declared due to fears the global fight against its eradication could face a major setback.
Zika, 2016 - The WHO declared Zika a public health emergency in 2016 after the disease spread rapidly through the Americas. Although for many Zika symptoms are mild, it can be dangerous for pregnant women and the emergency was called to spur urgent research.
Ebola, 2014 and 2019 - The deadly disease has twice been declared a public health emergency. The first one lasted from August 2014 to March 2016 as almost 30,000 people were infected and more than 11,000 died in West Africa. The WHO cited "the virulence of the virus, the intensive community and health facility transmission patterns, and the weak health systems" in affected countries. A second emergency was declared last year as the disease spread in the DR Congo.
Coronavirus, 2020 - Currently declared as global health emergency in concern of its affecting countries countries with weaker health systems.