Governments ramped up measures on Thursday to battle a looming global pandemic of the coronavirus as the number of infections outside China, the source of the outbreak, for the first time surpassed those appearing inside the country.
Australia initiated emergency measures and Taiwan raised its epidemic response level to its highest, a day after US President Donald Trump put his vice president, Mike Pence, in charge of the US response to the looming global health crisis.
The United States and South Korea postponed joint military drills to limit the spread of the virus, which has emerged far beyond China, where it originated late last year, apparently in a market selling wildlife in the city of Wuhan.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country, which has 23 cases of the virus, was operating on the basis of a pandemic and hospitals were under orders to ensure enough medical supplies, personal protective equipment and staff.
"There is every indication that the world will soon enter a pandemic phase of the coronavirus," Morrison told a news conference in Canberra.