Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking here during a news conference in Geneva, tweeted that coronavirus cases outside China could be "the tip of the iceberg."
  • The director-general of the World Health Organization said global markets should "calm down and try to see the reality" as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the global economy.
  • "We need to go into the numbers, we need to go into the facts, and do the right thing instead of panicking," Ghebreysus said, according to CNBC.
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.

Amid global panic around the spread of coronavirus, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), called on global markets to "calm down and try to see the reality."

"We need to continue to be rational. Irrationality doesn't help. We need to deal with the facts," Ghebreyesus said Sunday during a panel discussion at the King Salman Humanitarian Aid Center's International Humanitarian Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to CNBC.

Global markets have tanked the S&P 500 finishing its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis just a week after hitting record highs, as Markets Insider reported. The JSE also had its worst trading day in decades in February.

The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated at the end of last year in Wuhan, China, has spread to over 50 countries. The outbreak has so far killed at least 2,976 people and infected more than 86,000, mostly in China.

On Saturday, the US Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first US coronavirus death. At a press conference confirming the death, US vice president Mike Pence, announced new measures including expanding travel restrictions.

Still, Ghebreyesus said he believed that containing the virus and stopping its spread remained likely.

"Based on the facts on the ground, containment is possible," he said, CNBC reported. "But the window of opportunity for containing it is narrowing. So we need to preparing side by side for a pandemic."

Ghebreyesus added that the virus could "change direction" and become "worse," according to the Sunday report, but urged the public to focus on facts rather than fear.

"We need to go into the numbers, we need to go into the facts, and do the right thing instead of panicking. Panic and fear is the worst," he said.

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