UN health agency on Thursday declared an international emergency over the deadly coronavirus from China a rarely used designation that could lead to improved international co-ordination in tackling the disease.

“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems…. This is not a vote of no confidence in China,” World Health Organization (WHO) chief WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

China reported its biggest single-day jump in novel coronavirus deaths on Thursday, as global fears deepened with more infections confirmed overseas including three Japanese evacuated from the outbreak’s epicentre.

The World Health Organization, which initially downplayed a disease that has now killed 170 in China, was readying to meet Thursday to decide whether to declare it a global emergency.

Many countries have urged their citizens not to visit China, while some have banned entry for travellers from Wuhan.

At least 15 countries have confirmed infections.

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