Geneva: The new coronavirus outbreak can now be described as a pandemic, the head of the World Health Organisation announced on Wednesday.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was troubled by the spread and severity of the outbreak, along with lack of action taken to combat it.

Meanwhile, the Indian government reported 10 new cases of Covid-19 (coronavirus) infection, taking the nationwide toll to 60

"WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we're deeply concerned, both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction," he said during a news conference in Geneva.

"We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterised as a pandemic."

The number of cases in over 100 countries around the world has risen to more than 1,24,000, with over 4,500 deaths, including a jump in fatalities in Iran and Italy in particular, according to an AFP tally.

China remains the worst-affected country with more than 80,000 confirmed cases and over 3,000 deaths.

Tedros said that over the past two weeks, the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold and the number of affected countries had tripled.

He said he expected the number of cases and deaths would grow in the coming days and weeks.

"Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly," he told reporters, but he stressed that "describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO's assessment of the threat posed by the virus."

It should not be taken by countries as a signal to give up on efforts to contain the virus with methods like contact-tracing, he said.

Tedros pointed out that over 90% of cases had been registered in just four countries, and that countries with no or only a few cases could still halt the virus in its tracks.

"We should double down, and we should be more aggressive," Tedros said. Further adding, “We are not saying the world should move from containment to mitigation, the blended approach should continue.

"It will be a mistake to abandon the containment strategy," he said.

He acknowledged that the world had "never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus," but emphasised that "we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time." Countries can still change the course of the outbreak, he said.