As of Thursday night, there were more than 9,600 coronavirus cases confirmed in China, authorities said, an increase of almost 2,000 from the previous day. That surpasses the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak that began in southern China, which infected 8,098 people worldwide, killing 774. More than 20 countries and territories outside of mainland China have confirmed cases of the virus -- spanning Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East -- as India, Italy and the Philippines reported their first cases on Thursday.
"The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday. "Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it."