The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed that of the Sars epidemic, which spread to more than two dozen countries in 2003.
There were around 8,100 cases of Sars – severe acute respiratory syndrome – reported during the eight-month outbreak.
Peter Piot, professor of global health and director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the “good news” was that data suggested the virus may have a lower mortality than Sars.
There was also a diagnostic test and greater global sharing of information than previously, he said.
“And that is essential because you cannot deal with a potential pandemic in one country alone.”
There is not yet a specific anti-viral treatment for the infection, so people with the virus are currently being treated for their symptoms.
Researchers are racing to develop a vaccine, though, with one lab in California planning for a potential vaccine to enter human trials by June or July.