People are wearing masks at Myeongdong on February 20, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea.
Jong-Hyun Kim |Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
As cases of the new coronavirus surge outside of China, world health officials said Monday that other countries should start preparing for epidemic outbreaks of COVID-19 to cross their borders.
“It is time to do everything you would do in preparing for a pandemic,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, told reporters at a news briefing at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva. “In declaring something a pandemic, it is too early. We’re still trying to avoid that eventuality.”
In the past week, the virus has spread substantially outside of China. In Italy, the virus has infected more than 220 people and killed at least seven as of Monday morning. South Korea confirmed another 231 cases on Monday, which brings the total in the country to more than 830. And health officials in Iran have confirmed 61…