People wearing protective suits walk from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus.
PARIS - The situation improves in China while the list of countries hit globally grows, with a first case in Latin America.
The WHO warns the world is "simply not ready".
Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis.
Some 40 countries hit
There have been some 81,000 infections worldwide and 2,761 deaths worldwide, according to the latest toll from the World Health Organization late on Wednesday.
The number of deaths in China -- where the virus was first detected -- has declined, with 52 deaths in the last 24 hours, the lowest count in more than three weeks.
But the daily number of infections worldwide is higher than in China, the WHO said.
In its latest count, more than 40 people have died outside mainland China since the start of the epidemic, out of more than 2,900 people infected.
Community volunteers (R) wearing a protective facemasks and gloves to protect against the COVID-19 coronavirus secure the entrance of a residential area as they take the temperature of a man on a street in Beijing on February 23, 2020.
The toll rises to some 50 if the most recent deaths are included from certain countries, which are not yet included in the updated WHO report.
Cases of the virus have appeared in eight new countries -- Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Norway, Pakistan and Switzerland -- bringing the number of countries hit to around 40.
South Korea announces more than 1,200 infections -- by far the largest outside China -- and 12 deaths.
The number of infections in Italy, the hardest hit country in Europe, hits the 400 mark late on Wednesday, with 12 deaths.
Iran announces a total of 19 deaths and 139 infections, including the country's deputy health minister.
In France two people have died, with 18 infected, after the death of a 60-year old French person on Wednesday.
Latin America records its first case in a Brazilian who returned home from Italy.
World 'simply not ready'
Praising China's drastic quarantine and containment measures, Bruce Aylward, leader of a joint WHO-China mission of experts, also warns other nations are "simply not ready" to contain the outbreak.
"You have to be ready to manage this at a larger scale... and it has to be done fast".
He warns the new coronavirus may be around "for months".
Gulf countries announce new measures to cut links with Iran -- the major hotspot in the Middle East -- to stop the spread.
Iranian authorities for their part announce domestic travel restrictions for people with confirmed or suspected cases of the novel coronavirus.
In Europe, countries neighbouring Italy decide to keep their borders open despite the spread of the virus to Tuscany, Sicily and Liguria. But several governments encourage their nationals to postpone trips.
In the United States, health authorities urge local governments, businesses and schools to develop plans such as cancelling mass gatherings or switching to teleworking.
Sports, markets disrupted
Ireland's Six Nations rugby match against Italy planned for Dublin on March 7 is postponed to a later date.
Japan's sumo governing body announces it will hold an emergency meeting to decide whether to go ahead with a major tournament in Osaka scheduled to start on March 8.
But organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics say preparations are "continuing as planned".
Several major companies say their sales will be hit by the epidemic, including British drinks group Diageo, the maker of Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka, French food giant Danone, and American air company United Airlines.
German airline Lufthansa says it will freeze new hires and offer unpaid leave to employees.