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'Too early; to speak of pandemic, WHO says virus can be contained

Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, attends a news conference on the coronavirus (COVID-2019) in Geneva, Switzerland February 24, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that the novel coronavirus outbreak was not out of control globally nor causing large-scale deaths and it was “too early” to speak of a pandemic.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, told a news conference in Geneva: “Using the word pandemic does not fit the facts”, adding: “We must focus on containment while preparing for a potential pandemic”.

On Iran, Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program, said that the high death rate may reflect detection of only severe cases and not mild infections at the start of the outbreak. A WHO team is to arrive in Iran on Tuesday, he added.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Michael Shields

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