The World Health Organization called Monday for countries to test every suspected case of COVID-19, as the rest of the world registered more cases and deaths in the pandemic than China.
"You cannot fight a fire blindfolded," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva, saying the WHO recommended that countries "Test, test, test. Test every suspected case."
"In the past week, we have seen a rapid escalation of cases of COVID-19," he said, describing the pandemic as "the defining global health crisis of our time."
More cases and deaths have now been reported in the rest of the world than in China, where the new coronavirus first surfaced in December, he added.
He did not provide the latest numbers, but according to an AFP tally based on official sources, more than 169,710 cases have been recorded in 142 countries and territories. The death toll stood at 6,640.
The worst affected countries in terms of fatalities are mainland China, with 3,213 deaths, Italy with 1,809 deaths, 853 in Iran and 297 in Spain.