The World Health Organization said Thursday that the outbreak of a new coronavirus believed to have originated in China calls for urgent countermeasures but is not yet a global emergency.
After a two-day emergency meeting in Geneva, WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus told a press conference, "It has not yet become a global health emergency."
Didier Houssin, who chaired the emergency advisory committee, also said it is "too early" to declare the current outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC.
On declining to apply the label under current circumstances, Houssin noted that only a limited number of cases have been reported outside China, and that Chinese authorities are taking preventive measures such as a lockdown of Wuhan, the city in central China believed to have been the epicenter of the disease.
According to a statement released after the gathering, participant countries were divided over whether the current situation should be called an international health emergency.
Nonetheless, members of the emergency committee agreed on the urgency of the situation and will likely meet again within a matter of days to "examine the situation further."
The new virus appears to be spreading rapidly, with around 20 people dead and hundreds infected in China while cases have been reported in several countries in Asia as well as the United States.