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World Health Organization officials are holding a press conference Friday to update the public on the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more people than the 2003 SARS epidemic.
As of Friday, more than 64,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in over two dozen countries, resulting in least 1,380 deaths, almost all in China. The WHO declared the virus a global health emergency last month, a rare designation that helps the international agency mobilize financial and political support to contain the outbreak.
The number of new cases of COVID-19 appeared to be stabilizing until Thursday, when a change in China’s methodology for determining the disease led to a spike in confirmed cases in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Now, world health officials are scrambling to determine just how widespread the new coronavirus is.
“How big is the iceberg?” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, said at a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva on Thursday. “We do know, and we all accept, that there is transmission occurring at some level in communities. We’ve all seen those clusters, we’ve all seen those super spreading events.”
“The question is how much is happening outside what we see?” he said.
The iceberg “might not be that great,” Ryan added. Public health officials around the world have been actively testing suspected cases of the virus, and at the moment they are not discovering a huge amount of new cases, Ryan said.
To see the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit CNBC’s live updates here.