GENEVA — The World Health Organization has warned that the world should prepare for a potential coronavirus pandemic.
Outbreaks of COVID-19 have emerged in South Korea, Italy, and Iran, causing concern and prompting the WHO to say countries should be in 'a phase of preparedness' for a possible pandemic.
The BBC reports that a pandemic occurs when an infectious disease easily spreads from person to person across many parts of the world.
Thus far, the outbreak has been centered in China, where the virus originated.
Over 77,000 people have been infected, and 2,600 have died.
South Korea currently has 830 confirmed cases – the largest number outside China.
Eight have died, and 7,700 troops are now quarantined after at least 13 in the military were found to be infected.
Most of the country's cases are in Daegu, where clusters have been linked to a hospital and a secretive religious group.
The largest number of cases in Europe – at least 229 – are in Italy.
To contain the outbreak, authorities have locked down several towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions.
Iran also has 61 confirmed cases, the majority of which is in the holy city of Qom.
According to the BBC, cases have also been reported in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain, all of which involve people who came from Iran.