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Countries worldwide are preparing for the possibility of public health emergencies related to the novel coronavirus, as the World Health Organization warned a shortage of protective equipment is hampering the response to the outbreak.

The virus has infected more than 92,800 people and killed at least 3,200 since it was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year. It has now spread to more than 75 countries and territories, with self-sustaining clusters forming in South Korea, Japan, parts of Europe, Iran and the United States. 

At a news briefing Tuesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that each month, the organization estimates that about 89 million medical masks, 76 million examination gloves and 1.6 million goggles will be required globally for health care workers to respond to the outbreak. 

"Shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other front line health care workers dangerously ill-equipped," said Ghebreyesus. "The WHO has shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 27 countries, but supplies are rapidly depleting."

The dire warning comes as China announced a further drop in new cases, raising hopes that the outbreak is beginning to level off in the hard-hit country. Though the vast majority of the total number of confirmed cases and deaths are inside of China, the number of new daily infections outside of the country now exceeds those inside.

 

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