World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (AFP)
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged the countries with infected cases of coronavirus to consider putting off crowded activities, including closing schools and taking more preventive measures.
"Countries with community transmission could consider closing schools, cancelling mass gatherings and other measures to reduce exposure," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, told a news conference held at the organisation's headquarters on Monday.
WHO has defined four categories for countries: those with no cases; those with sporadic cases; those with clusters; and those with community transmission.
For the first three categories, countries must focus on finding, testing, treating and isolating individual cases, and following their contacts, he pointed out.
He revealed that more than 70 percent of the 80,000 reported cases in China have recovered and been discharged, noting "of all the cases reported globally so far, 93 percent are from just four countries."
"Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real," he added.
However, he noted that "the virus would be the first pandemic that could be controlled... The bottom line is we are not at the mercy of the virus."
Several countries decided earlier to temporarily suspend schools, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in an attempt to limit the spread of the flue-like virus.
Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly decided on Monday to put off crowded events until further notice.
The virus, which emerged in China's Wuhan late last year, has so far killed over 3,800 people, and infected more than 110,000.