WEF urges experts to be ready for next global outbreak of infectious disease

Updated 2018-03-15 09:40:04 Xinhua

The World Economic Forum (WEF) said Wednesday that in today's globalized world, a pathogen can travel from a remote village to major cities on all continents in under 36 hours, urging health, travel and tourism leaders to improve decision-making, coordination and communications to lessen the impact.

WEF said that the number and kind of infectious disease outbreaks such as influenza, Ebola, Zika, SARS, MERS-CoV, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, etc have increased significantly over the past 30 years.

Read more:WHO enlists 'Disease X' among most dangerous epidemics

They have increased as global trade and travel increase, and the international spread of disease is expected to grow, but through WEF's work on global health security, the group of experts aims to minimize the impact of outbreaks on travel and tourism.

"In our interconnected world, travel-related preparedness is increasingly important for global health security, including at ports, airports and ground crossings," said Peter Salama, WEF's deputy director-general of Emergency Preparedness and Response in a statement.

"By bringing the public and private sectors together, we can make smarter decisions on how to improve these capacities," said Salama.

The expert group is co-led by the World Travel and Tourism Council, technically supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and has experts from across the public and private sectors.

Each new outbreak is accompanied by calls to ban flights and close borders, in hopes of containing the outbreak.

However, these public interventions, along with other changes in consumer behavior, typically have a considerable economic impact and do little to slow the international spread of a virus, said WEF.

Responses are important as more than 10 percent of global GDP and one in 10 jobs relate to travel and tourism amounting to 7.6 trillion U.S. dollars each year.

WEF cited efforts by countries to ban flights from nations with H1N1 outbreaks in 2009 ultimately revealed as ineffective in containing the virus.

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