Five more countries in the Middle East today reported their first COVID-19 cases, all linked to Iran travel, signaling an escalating situation in the region in the wake of Iran’s outbreak, as World Health Organization (WHO) officials today announced that, although the global situation isn’t yet a pandemic,  the world should prepare for one.

Elsewhere, the pace of newly reported cases of the novel coronavirus continued to surge in South Korea and Italy, though cases are declining in China, where a WHO-led international joint mission wrapped up its visit and shared its initial findings today.

WHO calls China decline real

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