The World Health Organization declared Thursday that the new coronavirus epidemic was at a "decisive point" as countries across the globe battled to contain the deadly outbreak, AFP reported.
Saudi Arabia banned pilgrims from visiting Islam's holiest sites as the number of deaths jumped in neighbouring Iran, while Japan and Iraq ordered the closure of schools.
Alarm is growing as China is no longer the only breeding ground for COVID-19, with other countries including South Korea and Italy becoming hotbeds of infection, raising fears of a pandemic.
"We're at a decisive point," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference in Geneva. "If you act aggressively now, you can contain this virus, you can prevent people getting sick, you can save lives."