Coronavirus: Tourism and its resilience in the face of another great challenge

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Coronavirus: Tourism and its resilience in the face of another great challenge
Wed January 29, 2020

UNWTO forecasts for this year are positive, but the spread of the virus worries authorities around the globe


On January 20, the UNWTO published its World Tourism Barometer, a report that highlights that in 2020 it expects a growth of between 3% and 4%. Even 47% of study participants believe that tourism will have better results than in 2019 and 43% believe it will remain at the same level. Numbers without a doubt positive. The truth is that only 9 days later, the industry is in suspense to know what the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak may be (nCoV-2019).

The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, met yesterday with the President of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, in Beijing. They shared the most recent information about the outbreak for the new coronavirus of 2019 (nCoV-2019) and reiterated their commitment to control it.

Dr. Tedros, who was accompanied by the Regional Director of WHO, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, and by the Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergency Program, Dr. Mike Ryan, also met with the Minister of State and Minister Foreign Affairs, Mr. Wang Yi, and with the Minister of Health, Mr. Ma Xiaowei.

The National Health Commission presented China's strong public health capabilities and resources to respond and manage outbreaks of respiratory diseases. Discussions focused on maintaining collaboration regarding containment measures in Wuhan and public health measures in other cities and provinces, in conducting new studies on the severity and transmissibility of the virus, in the continuation of data exchange and sharing by China of biological material with WHO. These measures will advance scientific understanding of the virus and contribute to the formulation of medical response measures such as vaccines and treatments.

Both sides agreed that WHO will send international experts to visit China as soon as possible to work with their Chinese counterparts in order to better understand the outbreak and thereby guide global response efforts.

"Stopping the spread of this virus both in China and worldwide is the highest priority of WHO," said Dr. Tedros. "We appreciate the seriousness with which China is addressing this outbreak, especially the commitment of top leaders, and the transparency they have shown, particularly in the exchange of data and the genetic sequence of the virus. WHO is working closely with the Government in taking measures to understand the virus and limit its transmission. WHO will continue to work hand in hand with China and all other countries to protect health and keep people safe from the virus. "

The WHO mission comes at a time (January 28) when the number of people with confirmed virus infection has increased to more than 4500 worldwide, most of them in China.

The WHO delegation appreciated the measures that China has applied in response to the outbreak, its rapidity in identifying the virus and its openness to share information with WHO and other countries.

There is much to understand about nCoV-2019. The origin of the outbreak and its degree of spread in China are still unknown. While current knowledge about the disease remains limited, most cases reported to date have been milder, and about 20% of those infected have suffered from a serious illness. Both WHO and China noted that the number of cases being reported, including those outside of China, is deeply worrying. A better understanding of the transmissibility and severity of the virus is urgently needed to guide other countries on appropriate response measures.

WHO continuously monitors the evolution of the situation and the Director General can reconvene the Emergency Committee of the International Health Regulations (2005) in a very short time, if necessary. The members of the Committee are on alert and are regularly informed of the evolution of the situation.

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