(BBC) – The World Health Organization (WHO) has upgraded the global risk of the coronavirus outbreak to “very high” – its top level of risk assessment.
But the UN body said there was still a chance of containing the virus if its chain of transmission were broken.
WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also stressed that fear and misinformation were the biggest challenges to overcome.
More than 50 countries have now reported cases of coronavirus.
And sources within Iran’s healthcare system told BBC Persian that, as of Thursday evening, at least 210 people had died from the virus. This is more than six times higher than the official government figure.
At a press conference in Geneva, Dr Tedros said that most cases could still be traced, and there was no evidence of the virus “spreading freely in communities”.
His colleague, Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s Emergency Health Programme, said that the risk level was intended to serve as a “reality check” for governments, since healthcare systems were still unprepared.
“You have a duty to your citizens, you have a duty to the world to be ready,” said Dr Ryan.