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“For the moment we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus and we are not witnessing large-scale deaths,” World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted on Monday but acknowledged that the increasing number of coronavirus cases outside of China was concerning.

“Using the word pandemic does not fit the facts,” Tedros added. “We must focus on containment while preparing for a potential pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO, argued it was too early to declare the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. “We are still trying to avoid that reality,” Dr Ryan said.

Market reaction

Markets remain risk-averse following these comments with major US equity indexes losing more than 2.5% and the 10-year US Treasury bond yield erasing nearly 7%.