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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the coronavirus outbreak is not yet a pandemic, but a global public health emergency Coronavirus has claimed 425 lives, with more than 20,000 reported cases in China and 158 cases outside that country.

WHO, which stated this at a news conference on Tuesday in Geneva, said the agency was hopeful that the virus would be contained.

The UN agency acknowledged that it was challenging to contain the virus because of global mass movement.

It explained that the virus was currently considered to be an epidemic with multiple locations.

“We are not in a pandemic,” Dr Sylvie Briand, Director of the World Health Organisation’s Infectious Hazards Management Department, said.

“We will try to extinguish the transmission in each of these,” she said, adding that the agency believes this “can be done with containment measures currently in place.”

“Current control measures in place include early case detection, early isolation and treatment of cases, contact tracing and social detention measures in places where there is risk of transmission

“These are the core elements of any outbreak response and might be enough to stop an infection from spreading,” the official was quoted as saying.

According to WHO, there is a “window of opportunity” to stop the deadly new coronavirus becoming a broader global crisis.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the steps China took to fight the virus at its epicentre were a good way of stopping its spread.

The praise comes as Chinese officials have been widely criticised for their initial handling of the outbreak.

(NAN)

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