The World Health Organization designated the risk of the global coronavirus outbreak "very high," upgrading it to the second-highest assessment below "pandemic." "The continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries over the last few days are clearly of concern," WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. The WHO said it is unlikely to declare the virus, which has infected more than 83,000 people worldwide, an official pandemic because it could encourage governments to focus on treatment rather than containment and prevention. "To accept that mitigation is the only option is to accept that the virus cannot be stopped," said Michael Ryan, WHO director for health emergencies. Despite the official designation, many health officials say a global pandemic may be inevitable.

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