The World Health Organization said the coronavirus outbreak that has swept from China to a number of countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe is not yet a pandemic, but it urged countries to prepare for its arrival on the assumption that a declaration may come.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said countries should be working to protect health workers, engaging groups that are at highest risk—for instance, the elderly—and striving to contain spread of the virus to the highest degree possible to slow its arrival in countries that don’t have the means to respond to its threat.
“For the moment, we’re not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus, and we’re not witnessing large-scale severe disease or deaths,” he told journalists during a briefing from the agency’s Geneva headquarters. “Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely it has. Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet.”