Health and Science

Watch live: World Health Organization holds press conference on the coronavirus outbreak

Key Points
  • World Health Organization officials are holding a press conference Thursday to update the public on the coronavirus outbreak.
  • There are more than 81,400 confirmed cases and at least 2,770 deaths so far.

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World Health Organization officials are holding a press conference Thursday to update the public on the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 81,400 and killed at least 2,770 so far.

Named COVID-19, the virus has shuttered commerce across much of China and is hitting company earnings, global stock markets and manufacturing across the world. WHO officials declared the virus a global health emergency last month, while urging the public against over-reacting to the virus.

In the past week, the virus has spread substantially beyond China and is now circulating in at least 37 countries across the world. In Italy, it's infected more than 300 people as of Thursday morning. The majority of the cases are in the northern region of Lombardy and neighboring Veneto, where authorities have shut schools and banned public gatherings in an attempt to contain the virus.

South Korea has now confirmed over 1,200 cases of the virus. The recent surge in cases prompted the South Korean government raise the COVID-19 alert to its highest level. Meanwhile, Iran health officials have confirmed over 100 total cases, with about 20 deaths nationwide. Most of the confirmed cases were found in the city of Qom.

The number of daily new COVID-19 cases outside China exceeded those inside the country for the first time, the WHO announced Wednesday.

"The sudden increases of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "Yesterday, the number of new cases reported outside China exceeded the number of new cases in China for the first time."

Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first possible community transmission of the coronavirus in America, a troubling sign that the virus could be spreading in local cities and towns.

The localized outbreaks outside of China are fueling concerns among infectious disease experts and scientists that the virus is spreading too quickly and may be past the point of containment. Health officials are warning the public to prepare for a potential global pandemic.

As the virus spreads, the WHO's Tedros is calling the international community to action before it's too late.

"The window of opportunity is still there, but our window of opportunity is narrowing," he said last week. "We need to act quickly before it closes completely."

Read CNBC's live updates to see the latest news on the COVID-19 outbreak.