Coronavirus latest updates: WHO mission director warns world is 'simply not ready'

Hello and welcome to our continuing coverage of the coronavirus.

You can read our earlier updates here.

The focus has been on Europe, where the outbreak is worsening, but we’ll soon be hearing the latest from China, South Korea and Japan.

Switzerland, Austria and Croatia have reported their first cases, and the death toll has risen in Italy to 11.

Algeria has also confirmed its first case of the virus.

In Geneva, Dr Bruce Aylward, who headed the joint WHO-Chinese mission to Wuhan, called for countries to “prepare for a potential pandemic”.

He hailed the measures taken in China, but told reporters that other nations were “simply not ready” for reining in the outbreak.

He said countries needed to shift their mindset to preparing for an outbreak of the novel coronavirus and be ready to respond rapidly when it arrived, Reuters reported.

Aylward told reporters on his return to Switzerland from Wuhan that China’s “extraordinary mobilisation” to handle the virus outbreak showed how aggressive policy steps could curb the disease’s spread.

Authorities should prepare hospital beds, isolation zones and respirators for severe cases, Aylward said, adding: “China knows how to keep people alive.”

He said hundreds of thousands of people did not get the Covid-19 illness because of China’s aggressive response.

“Access the expertise of China. They have done this at speed and they know what they are doing. They are really, really good at it.”

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has warned it is a matter of when, not if, the virus spreads to US communities.

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