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WATCH: WHO says novel coronavirus is a global public health emergency

The World Health Organization said novel coronavirus amounts to a global public health emergency Thursday.

Watch the announcement in our player above.

This is the second time the WHO has convened to deliberate over the threat level posed by this virus, or 2019-NCoV, which belongs to the same family of illness as the common cold, SARS and MERS.

Since it originated in Wuhan, China, 170 people have died in mainland China, and another 7,711 people have been diagnosed with the virus. There are confirmed cases in 22 countries, including China and the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Worldwide, 7,818 patients have been identified with confirmed cases of the virus, the WHO reported.

In an effort to contain further spread, China has shut down transportation for more than a dozen cities, including Wuhan, effectively placing more than 50 million people under quarantine.

On Wednesday, WHO officials praised Chinese efforts to prevent more illness and for sharing the virus’ sequenced genome, which led to rapid development of diagnostic tests to screen people with suspected cases and has been useful in initiating early stages of possible medications and vaccines to combat the illness.

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