A World Health Organization (WHO) team will travel to Iran this weekend to provide support regarding the novel coronavirus, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva on Wednesday, noting that on Tuesday the number of new cases reported outside China had exceeded that reported in China for the first time.
Outside China, 2,790 cases of coronavirus had been reported in 37 countries as of Wednesday morning, including 44 deaths, according to the WHO.
Speaking at his weekly mission briefing on COVID-19, Tedros said the sudden increase in the number of cases in Italy, Iran and the Republic of Korea was "deeply concerning."
"A joint team of the WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control arrived in Rome to review the public health measures that have been put in place and to provide technical support," said the WHO director-general.
Despite the rise in cases outside China, Tedros stressed that "we should not be too eager to declare a pandemic without a careful and clear-minded analysis of the facts."
He urged all countries to prepare for a potential pandemic, saying that every country needs to be ready to detect cases early, isolate patients, trace contacts, provide quality clinical care, prevent hospital outbreaks and community transmission.
The WHO chief highlighted three priorities for all countries in combating the coronavirus at the current stage, namely protecting health workers, engaging communities to protect people who are most at risk of severe disease, and protecting countries that are the most vulnerable.
In the fight to contain the virus and save lives, Tedros reiterated that "this is a time for global solidarity -- political solidarity, technical solidarity and financial solidarity."
Citing the latest report delivered by the joint WHO-China mission on COVID-19, Tedros underlined the key message that should give all countries hope, courage and confidence -- this virus can be contained.