The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the world should be preparing for a potential pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus.
In a statement read out at the WHO press conference in Geneva on Monday Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “We must focus on containment whilst doing everything we can to prepare for a potential pandemic.”
The WHO does not consider it to be a pandemic yet as “We are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of the virus,” said Dr Ghebreyesus.
“Does this virus have pandemic potential?, absolutely it has, are we there yet? from our assessment, not yet,” he added.
The Director-General also said that the world should be working harder to contain the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 2,600 people so far.
COVID-19 has appeared in areas of Europe, with the worst outbreak outside of Asia in Italy as deaths continue to rise.
Dr Ghebreyesus was, however, upbeat about China’s position: “We are encouraged by the continued decline in cases in China,” despite there being 416 new cases and 150 deaths reported in China in the last 24 hours.