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COVID-19 'at decisive point' as epidemic worsens outside China: WHO chief

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-02-28 09:11
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The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (L) speaks at a daily briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb 27, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua] 

GENEVA - The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday that the world is at a "decisive point" to tackle the coronavirus outbreak as new cases outside China has outnumbered that inside the country.

"We are at a decisive point," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a daily briefing. "For the past two days, the number of new cases reported in the rest of the world has exceeded the number of new cases in China."

"And in the past 24 hours, seven countries have reported cases for the first time: Brazil, Georgia, Greece, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan and Romania," he added.

The WHO chief explained that by referring it as a "decisive point," he was underlining both sides of a coin.

On the positive side, he said, there's the signal that "when you do containment measure like China is doing, you can actually see a decline in the cases and ultimately it can be contained."

On the other side, the increase of cases in the rest of the world, especially in Iran, Italy and South Korea, is bad news, he said.

"Then the two (sides) combined, it shows that we are actually in a very delicate situation where the outbreak can go in any direction, based on how we handle it," he warned.

The WHO chief reiterated his call for all countries to act aggressively and swiftly. "Aggressive, early measures can prevent transmission before the virus gets a foothold." he said.

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