GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday that the new coronavirus that has emerged in China and spread to several other countries does not yet constitute an international emergency but it was tracking its evolution “every minute”.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement after its Emergency Committee of 16 independent experts reviewed the latest evidence and made its recommendations, which he accepted.

“Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China,” Tedros told a news conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

“But it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.”

China put millions of people on lockdown on Thursday in two cities at the epicenter of a coronavirus outbreak that has killed 18 people and infected more than 630, as authorities around the world worked to prevent a global pandemic.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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