Taiwan likely to join next WHO meeting 'online'

International forum in Switzerland to focus on fighting new coronavirus

Michael Ryan (left) and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (WHO photo)

Michael Ryan (left) and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (WHO photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The World Health Organization (WHO) may allow Taiwan to participate in its next international forum centered on fighting the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), but only in an online capacity.

WHO leadership held a press conference on the virus, which has claimed more than 800 lives globally, on Saturday (Feb. 8), the last day of the UN health agency’s Executive Board meeting. WHO Executive Director Michael Ryan said approximately 400 medical researchers would attend the forum next week, though some from regions severely affected by the virus might not be able to personally join the event in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ryan said medical experts from Taiwan, as well as a number of those from China, would take part in the forum online. He added that he believed they would still be able to be highly involved in the discussion and make contributions.

WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who sat beside the executive director, made no comment on the issue, reported CNA. Taiwan continues to seek a greater role in the WHO community amid the coronavirus outbreak in neighboring China, the report added.

The executive director stressed that the agency had remained in technical contact with Taiwan, including with Taiwanese officials and health authorities. He added that Taiwan had worked with Chinese and European authorities to ensure full cooperation between itself and the WHO.

The research and innovation forum on the coronavirus, scheduled for Feb. 11-12, aims to accelerate the development of virus tests, vaccines, and medicine. “Experts will build on existing SARS and MERS coronavirus research and identify knowledge gaps and research priorities in order to accelerate scientific information and medical products most needed to minimize the impact of the 2019-nCoV outbreak,” said a WHO news release about the forum.