Nine times more new virus cases outside China than in: WHO

In China, where the deadly new virus first appeared last December, the number of new cases being registered each days is meanwhile continuing to decline, with only 206 new cases reported to WHO on Sunday.

South Korean soldiers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, at a market in Daegu on 2 March 2020. Picture: AFP

GENEVA - The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Monday that the number of new coronavirus cases registered in the past day in China was far lower than in the rest of the world.

"In the last 24 hours there were almost nine times more COVID-19 cases reported outside China than inside China," World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

To date, more than 3,000 people have died from the new virus, while nearly 90,000 have been infected around the world, according to AFP's latest toll based on official sources.

In China, where the deadly new virus first appeared last December, the number of new cases being registered each days is meanwhile continuing to decline, with only 206 new cases reported to WHO on Sunday.

That marks the lowest number of daily cases reported since 22 January, Tedros said, adding that all but eight of those cases were reported in Hubei province - the epicentre of the outbreak.

Outside of China, however, 8,739 cases have now been registered across 61 countries, including 127 deaths, according to WHO's latest count.

WATCH: Coronavirus update: 5 existing cases in Africa

Tedros said a "window of opportunity" remains to contain the outbreak, noting that "more than 130 countries have not detected any cases yet".

In the countries that are seeing cases, he said the situations in South Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan are currently "our greatest concern".

Iran reported 12 more deaths on Monday, raising the country's toll to 66, the second biggest after China.

A WHO mission to support the Iranian response to the outbreak arrived in the country on Monday, bringing with it "protective equipment to support over 15,000 health care workers".

The team also brought "laboratory kits enough to test and diagnose nearly 100,000 people," WHO said.

South Korea, the biggest nest of infections outside China, reported nearly 500 new cases on Monday, raising its total past 4,000.

Half of South Korea's cases are linked to a sect whose leader apologised Monday for the spread of the disease.

Tedros said he was encouraged to see that most of the South Korean cases were linked to "five known clusters", indicating "that surveillance measures are working."