The coronavirus outbreak has reached a ‘decisive point’, the head of WHO said, urging countries to redouble efforts to contain its spread effectively.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison insists the decision launch the government's emergency response plan to deal with the coronavirus is crucial to ensure the country is prepared for an outbreak, even though the World Health Organisation (WHO) is yet to make a global pandemic declaration.
The coronavirus outbreak has reached a "decisive point ", the head of WHO said overnight, urging countries to redouble efforts to contain its spread effectively.
"This virus has pandemic potential," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
But for the first time, the coronavirus has caused more new cases outside China, the epicentre of the outbreak, than inside the country and the virus has reached every continent but Antarctica.
READ MORE: Coronavirus: What is it, symptoms and everything else you need to know
Health ministers will gather in Melbourne today to discuss how Australia will respond to the declaration of a global coronavirus pandemic.
And Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told Today that while the majority of coronavirus cases were mild, vulnerable patients were at serious risk and this was 'more than just a bad cold'.
Mr Morrison told Today the decision to activate the coronavirus emergency response plan was all about staying prepared.
"This virus is certainly more mild than SARS and MERS but around the world more people have actually had a fatal outcome from this virus than SARS and MERS combined," he said.
"This is highly transmissible and moved very rapidly, and particularly those that are more vulnerable, the elderly, that is where we have seen a lot of the fatalities. We are staying ahead."
However, Mr Morrison would not be drawn into whether WHO has mishandled their advice on coronavirus.
"That really is not something I am terribly focussed on," he said.
"We have the best medical advice and I am listening to our chief medical officer, not the WHO. They will come to this view, I suspect, at some point as they did last time. What we will do is get on and protect Australians right here and now.
"We moved ten days ahead of the WHO last time and we were right."
But Mr Morrison also urged calm and for Australians to go about their everyday lives.
There are 23 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia: 8 in Queensland; 4 in NSW; 7 in Victoria; 3 in South Australia; 1 in Western Australia.
"This is about staying prepared, this is about assuring people that we have got this, we are prepared for it, so you can go to the footy, you can go out to the Chinese restaurant - in fact I encourage you to," Mr Morrison said.
"You can just get about your business. If you are a kid you can go off to school, play with your mate, do all of those things."
Dr Kelly told Today that while the majority of coronavirus cases were mild, vulnerable patients were at serious risk.
"We are learning more things about this virus every day," he said.
"Most of the information so far comes from China and many, many cases of those 80,000 around the world, still the majority, are from China and mostly Hubei province.
"Eightyper cent of cases are relatively mild illness but about 5 per cent can get very severe, ending up with intensive care and there has been a death rate … over 2000 people have died.
"This is more than just a bad cold for some people."
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-lates-pandemic-preparations-in-australian-who-advice/f302f4bc-e75c-45bc-8d8b-b7048c172ff3