WHO says COVID-19 threat now at highest level: ‘Wake up. Get ready. This virus may be on its way.’

The World Health Organization increased its risk assessment of the novel coronavirus to its highest level Friday, according to a report by CNBC.

The virus, which started in China in December 2019, has spread to at least 49 countries.

“We are on the highest level of alert or highest level of risk assessment in terms of spread and in terms of impact,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program. “This is a reality check for every government on the planet: Wake up. Get ready. This virus may be on its way and you need to be ready. You have a duty to your citizens, you have a duty to the world to be ready.”

According to the Associated Press, 83,000 have been infected globally. It has claimed the lives of 2,800 people.

This story was reported from Atlanta.