While it is still too early to call the Coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is now warning that world needs to do more to be prepared for the virus to become one.
WHO defines a pandemic as an infectious disease that spreads across two or more continents, spreading from person to person in many parts of the world.
Originally the virus was largely contained to China but now there are outbreaks in South Korea, Italy and Iran.
At present, there are 79,774 cases of the virus worldwide with 2,629 people having died from the illness.
For some perspective 77,345 of these cases are in China, followed by 833 cases in South Korea, 691 from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship and 229 in Italy.
The rapid rise of cases in Italy has seen the country take major precautions with around 50,000 residents in Northern Italian towns under lockdown.
WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has described the number of new cases in recent days in Iran, Italy and South Korea as “deeply concerning”.
“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,” he said.
“Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely, it has. Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet.”
WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
He said the key message is that this virus CAN be contained.
“Indeed there are many countries that have done exactly that,” he said.
“Using the word ‘pandemic’ now does not fit the facts but may certainly cause fear.”
When it comes to Australia our total number of coronavirus cases is sitting steadily at 22.
There are stricter border control measures in place to prevent the spread of the infection including health screenings at airports and ports. There are also travel bans in place for those coming from mainland China.
Smartraveller is also updating its advice for Australian citizen as the situation unfolds.
Those travelling to Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong are advised to exercise a high degree of caution and monitor their health closely.
You can see more information from Smartraveller here.
Share this story