The deadly coronavirus outbreak that has spread from China does not yet constitute a “pandemic”, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
Sylvie Briand, head of WHO’s Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness, also stressed the importance of tackling unfounded rumours about the virus.
A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease, according to the WHO.
The death toll has now risen to 425, with more than 20,000 confirmed cases in 26 nations around the world.
Officials say 423 people have died in China and one in Hong Kong. One death has also been confirmed in the Philippines.
China’s top leadership earlier admitted “shortcomings and deficiencies” in the country’s response to the outbreak, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, Hubei province.
The rare admission came from the Politburo Standing Committee, which called for an improvement in China’s emergency management system.
It also ordered a “severe” crackdown on illegal wildlife markets – where the virus is thought to have emerged.