The World Health Organization is raising its global risk assessment of the coronaviruses spread an impact to the highest level of alert.
During a news conference on Friday, WHO officials said the agency is adjusting its evaluation to very high based on the continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries in recent days.
The panel said the measure is not intended to alarm anyone but to get governments to step up efforts to protect citizens and contain the viruses spread.
They said they’ve yet to see evidence that the coronavirus is spreading freely in communities, so it’s still possible to contain it.
But they said governments would need to take robust action including educating people and expanding efforts to find isolate and care for every case.
Officials also once again refused to classify the outbreak as a pandemic saying doing so would hinder containment efforts. “If we say there’s a pandemic of coronavirus we’re essentially accepting that every human on the planet will be exposed to that virus. The data does not support that as yet and China has clearly shown that that’s not necessarily the natural outcome of this event. If we take action if we move quickly if we do the things we need to do that does not need to be the history of this event.”
There are more than 83,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide according to the WHO’s latest situation report.