The World Health Organization warned Monday there was now a "very real" threat that the global outbreak of the new deadly coronavirus could become a pandemic, but stressed the virus could still be held under control.
"Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters while stressing that "it would be the first pandemic in history that can be controlled."
"The bottom line is that we are not at the mercy of the virus."
Outbreaks in some countries can still be controlled through a combination of containment and mitigation measures, Ghebreyesus said.
Four countries account for 93% of the nearly 110,000 cases worldwide, Tedros said. "We are encouraged that Italy is taking aggressive measures to contain its epidemic and we hope that those measures prove effective in the coming days," he added.
Furthermore, he noted that more than 70% of those infected with the new coronavirus in China had recovered, adding that the country was "bringing its epidemic under control."
Out of more than 80,000 cases of COVID-19 in China, "more than 70% have recovered and have been discharged," the WHO chief said.