World must prepare for pandemic, says WHOBack

The World Health Organization has said the world should do more to prepare for a possible coronavirus pandemic.

The WHO said it was too early to call the outbreak a pandemic but countries should be "in a phase of preparedness".

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday that the number of new cases in recent days in Iran, Italy and South Korea was "deeply concerning".

However he added: "For the moment we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus and we are not witnessing large scale severe disease or deaths.

"Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely, it has. Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet."

"The key message that should give all countries hope, courage and confidence is that this virus can be contained, indeed there are many countries that have done exactly that," Mr Tedros said.

“In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China has increased thirteenfold and the number of affected countries has tripled,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva. “In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher.”

Tedros said several countries have been able to suppress and control the outbreak, but he scolded other world leaders for failing to act quickly enough or drastically enough to contain the spread.

“We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he said, just before declaring the pandemic. “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”