Italy coronavirus death toll now 7, WHO says COVID-19 not pandemic yet

Italy coronavirus deaths now stand at 7, with 220 people infected. Italian villages are now on lockdown in Europe's worst flare-up of COVID-19.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today says word "pandemic" does not yet fit the facts.

"We must focus on containment while preparing for a potential pandemic," he told reporters in Geneva, and says the world is not yet seeing an uncontained spread or large-scale deaths.

The epidemic in China peaked between Jan. 23 and Feb. 2 and has been declining since, the WHO said.

Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO's emergencies program, told reporters it was still possible to contain the virus and that it might appear each year like the flu.

"The virus may settle down into an endemic pattern of transmission, into a seasonal pattern of transmission, or it could accelerate into a full-blown global pandemic," he said in Geneva on Monday. "And at this point, it is not possible to say which of those realities is going to happen."

The outbreak has spread beyond China's Hubei province to at least 29 countries or territories, with two dozen confirmed deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

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