The leader of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday that the coronavirus kown as 2019-nCoV could lead to outbreaks across the world.
"Our objective remains containment," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference attended by CNBC. "We call on all countries to use the window of opportunity we have to prevent a bigger fire."
Most cases of the disease outside of mainland China have been people who had just spent time there or others who came into contact with them.
But in some countries the virus has continued to spread, leading to local outbreaks, which is what most worries Ghebreyesus.
"The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire, but for now it's only a spark," Ghebreyesus said at the press conference.
The WHO is sending shipments of supplies like medical masks and gloves, as well as tests for the coronavirus, to countries around the world in an attempt to better arm officials against the viral outbreak, CNBC reports.
While most patients who get sick experience flu-like symptoms then recover, nearly 1,000 patients have died of 2019-nCoV over the last month.