What they're saying: Germany's health minister said Thursday the country was "at the beginning of an epidemic", per AP, as cases surged to 27.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health said a woman in her 60s, who recently travelled to Iran, was fifth person to contract the novel coronavirus in the province.
"Upon presenting to the hospital's emergency department, a thorough medical assessment was completed, and COVID-19 testing was initiated", a statement from Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health read.
One of the biggest challenges the United Nations health agency faces is that too many affected countries are still not sharing data with WHO.
Iran's outbreak has added to the isolation of a nation already under USA sanctions.
The increase in cases outside China has prompted some media and politicians to push for a pandemic to be declared.
Though the outbreak meets the definition of a pandemic - widespread contagion across a large region - the World Health Organization has so far held back from using the term.
Using the word pandemic carelessly has no tangible benefit, but it does have significant risk in terms of amplifying unnecessary and unjustified fear and stigma, and paralyzing systems.
The situation has rattled global markets and led to concern about the long term economic impact of the virus, with the Dow posting major losses earlier this week, though the U.S. market opened marginally higher Wednesday.
"We are in a fight that can be won if we do the right things".
USA health authorities, managing 59 cases so far - mostly Americans repatriated from a cruise ship in Japan - have said a global pandemic is likely.
In Europe, France's number of reported cases doubled, Germany warned of an impending epidemic and Greece, a gateway for refugees from the Middle East, announced tighter border controls. In the rest of the world, there are 2,790 cases, in a population of 6.3 billion.
Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said Tuesday that the situation has met two of the criteria for a pandemic: "the fact that this virus has caused illness - including illness that has resulted in death - and sustained person-to-person spread".
"There does not appear to be widespread community transmission", he added.
"This is no time for complacency", he underscored. The COVID-19 outbreak has so far infected people in 50 countries and territories, and more than four-thousand cases have been confirmed outside of mainland China.
As well as stockpiling medical supplies, governments ordered schools shut and cancelled big gatherings, including sports events, to try to halt the flu-like disease that emerged in China more than two months ago from an illegal wildlife market.
Meanwhile, NDP health critic Don Davies told the House of Commons Thursday that the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is anxious federal guidelines to protect front-line workers "do not go far enough and may be putting patients at risk".
Vulnerable countries must be protected by containing epidemics in countries with the capacity to do so. And, get this, these reported cases were without any connections to the virus' site of origin-China. We hope that we have succeeded by giving you the full details and information.
The global count of those sickened by the virus hovered around 82,000. The International Monetary Fund has cut China's economic growth forecasts from 6.0% in January to 5.6% in late February.
In closing he affirmed, "this is a time for global solidarity - political solidarity, technical solidarity and financial solidarity".
The director-general added that it's not time to be scared, but time to take action to prevent infections and save lives.
Seven cases have been identified in British Columbia thus far, including some being linked to recent travel to Iran.
"We now are not in this type of situation, but these are public health measures, public health tools, that we could use and have been used in the past if needed to further protect our community".
"Travel restrictions going beyond these may cause unnecessary interference with worldwide traffic, including negative repercussions on the tourism sector", the statement said.