• The World Health Organisation says the coronavirus is proving 'exceptionally difficult to stop.'
  • The WHO's comments came as the overall confirmed number of global cases reached 20 million across 188 countries on Tuesday.
  • The US has recorded over 5 million cases, more than a quarter of the total caseload.
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The World Health Organisation says the coronavirus is proving "exceptionally difficult to stop" as the number of global cases passed 20 million for the first time.

"This virus is proving exceptionally difficult to stop," said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme during a news conference on Monday in comments reported by CNN.

"This is not an easy virus and not an easy virus, either, to detect. It's not an easy virus to stop," he said.

Ryan's comments came as the overall confirmed number of global cases reached 20 million across 188 countries on Tuesday, according to John Hopkins University. Over 700,000 of those people have now died, according to the figures.

The US has recorded over 5 million cases - more than a quarter of the total caseload - although the average number of new daily cases has now started to tick down again.

Brazil has recorded the second-highest number of cases, at over 3 million, followed by India, Russia, and South Africa.

Dr. Ryan said that detecting cases of coronavirus was difficult in countries where other diseases including influenza are also circulating and emphasised the need to ramp up testing in those places.

He said that the WHO was placing significant emphasis on determining at what point the disease had originally passed between animals and humans, which he said was important in preventing it from happening with a different disease in the future.

"If you follow the data and the science, you will find, hopefully, the point at which the disease crossed the species barrier," he said.

"It is important that we find that because as long as the animal-human breach has not been discovered, there's always a chance that that barrier can be breached again."

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