(Image: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

This morning the World Health Organisation announced that countries should be "in a phase of preparedness" for a coronavirus pandemic.

As panic spreads, here's what you need to know: the virus has spread to nearly 80,000 people in 37 countries. While the vast majority of these cases are still in China (around 77,000), there have been worrying outbreaks in many other countries. In particular, there are new focal points in Iran, Italy and South Korea.


Iran was the second major hotspot for the outbreak after China. This week there was a queasy symbolism in deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi testing positive to the virus after appearing visibly unwell on Iranian television on Monday.