The World Health Organization says it will hold an urgent meeting this week to decide whether the coronavirus is an international public health emergency.
In a news conference Wednesday morning, WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the agency is working closely with public health authorities in infected countries.
According to WHO criteria, for the virus to be labeled an international public health threat, it must spread locally when it arrives in new parts of the world.
“Although the numbers outside China are still relatively small, they hold the potential for a much larger outbreak,” said Tedros, who is known by his first name.
Officials stress there still is a lot they don’t know about the virus and that information is changing by the hour.
According to German Health Officials, a man contracted the coronavirus from a colleague visiting from Shanghai. Officials believe this is the first case of person-to-person transmission outside of China.
As of now, the coronavirus includes a range of symptoms. About 20% of people become severely sick and develop pneumonia and respiratory failure.
Tedros told reporters he met on Tuesday with China’s President Xi Jinping, National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi to discuss virus containment and sharing information.
Tedros noted he felt encouraged by President Xi’s involvement in the response to the virus.