Despite the World Health Organization refraining from using the word 'pandemic' to describe the situation, the UN health agency's chief says the COVID-19 outbreak is at a 'decisive point'.
"We're at a decisive point. For the past two days, the number of new cases reported in the rest of the world has exceeded the number of new cases reported from China.(cut) Our message continues to be that this virus has pandemic potential, and WHO is providing the tools to help every country to prepare accordingly."
The term 'pandemic' is used when an infectious disease spreads easily from person to person in many parts of the world.
The COVID-19 outbreak has so far infected people in 50 countries and territories, and more than four-thousand cases have been confirmed outside of mainland China.
However, the WHO continues to reiterate that it's too early to call the outbreak a pandemic, but rather called on countries to be "in a phase of preparedness".
Despite the rising number of cases in South Korea, Italy and Iran, the WHO chief remains optimistic the virus can be contained.
"The epidemics in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea demonstrate what this virus is capable of. But this virus is not influenza. With the right measures, it can be contained."
The director-general added that it's not time to be scared, but time to take action to prevent infections and save lives.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.