Odishatv Bureau

London: The World Health Organisation has said it is too early now to call the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic yet, but the world should do more to prepare for such an eventuality, reports said on Monday.

The WHO said countries should be "in a phase of preparedness" for a pandemic, when an infectious disease spreads easily from person to person in various parts of the world, the BBC reported.

More cases of the virus, which causes respiratory disease Covid-19, continue to emerge, with worrying outbreaks in South Korea, Italy and Iran.

However, most infections are in China, the original source of the virus, where 77,000 people have the disease and nearly 2,600 have died.

Over 1,200 cases have been confirmed in about 30 other countries and there have been more than 20 deaths. Italy reported three more deaths on Monday, raising the total there to six.

Worldwide stock markets saw sharp falls because of concerns about the economic impact of the virus.

China said it would postpone the annual meeting of the National People's Congress next month, to "continue the efforts" against the coronavirus. This is the first time the meeting has been postponed since 1978.