The World Health Organization (WHO) has increased its risk assessment of the coronavirus to “very high” at a global level.
According to BBC.com, WHO’s health emergencies program executive director Dr. Mike Ryan said the agency is not trying to scare people by issuing the highest level of risk assessment in terms of spread and impact.
“This is a reality check for every government on the planet: Wake up! Get ready!” Ryan said in a statement. “This virus may be on its way and you need to be ready. You have a duty to your citizens; you have a duty to the world to be ready.”
The WHO is calling on governments around the world to take the coronavirus outbreak seriously and work hard to contain it within their borders and avoid “the worst of it.”
In addition to the confirmed cases in China, where the viral outbreak originated, at least 4,351 cases have been reported and confirmed across at least 48 countries, including 67 deaths as of Friday.
The WHO said Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Nigeria all reported their first confirmed cases Thursday, which were all connected to the outbreak in Italy. Officials said most cases of the viral infection have been traced to known contacts or clusters of cases.
The organization also recently revealed the number of new coronavirus cases outside China now exceeds those inside the country for the first time. WHO officials said countries must act “swiftly” and “aggressively” to contain the virus.
Earlier this week, the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee said the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo in July could be canceled if the coronavirus outbreak shows no sign of dissipating.
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