MONDAY, Feb. 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A coronavirus pandemic looked ever more likely on Monday as multiple countries around the world raced to stem outbreaks of “untraceable” cases of the virus.

Clusters of cases arising in South Korea, Italy, and Iran with no clear ties to the outbreak’s epicenter in China have heightened concerns about local, self-sustaining epidemics and a global pandemic, the Associated Press reported.

“We are worried about the situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran and in Italy,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director of the World Health Organization, said Monday. “It is an incredible time. Less than two months ago, the coronavirus was completely unknown to us. The past few weeks have demonstrated just how quickly a new virus can spread around the world and cause widespread fear and disruption.”

Speaking to the AP, one expert said that the mild nature of most cases of COVID-19 is making the virus tough to spot and contain. People with symptoms that might simply be taken for cold or flu may be transmitting the virus to others, explained Amesh Adalja, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore. “If that’s the case, all of these containment methods are not going to work,” Adalja told the AP. “It’s likely mixed in the cold and flu season all over the place, in multiple countries.”

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