The novel coronavirus has killed more than 2,400 since the outbreak in early January but experts believe it has yet to reach its tipping point. Despite efforts to contain the disease in several countries, especially China, new cases of coronavirus in other parts of the world seem to suggest that the COVID-19 is outstripping attempts to prevent it from spreading.

Last weekend, major outbreaks forced Italy and Iran to implement strict travel restrictions. Since Friday night, 11 north Italian towns have been in lockdown, with police imposing fines on anyone caught entering or leaving the outbreak areas. This preventive measure was put in place following the doubling of coronavirus cases in Italy between Feb. 21 and Feb. 22. Schools and universities in 14 provinces in Iran were also closed down on Feb. 22.

On Feb. 23, South Korean President Moon Jae-In also placed the country on red alert following a major spike in coronavirus cases. As of Feb. 18, the number of confirmed cases in South Korea was only 31 but on Feb. 22, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that this number had risen to 556 in just a matter of days.

With almost 79,000 coronavirus cases across the globe today, experts say the situation may get even worse. According to University of East Anglia Professor Paul Hunter, an authority on the COVID-19 infection, the time for containing the virus is running out.

“The director-general of the W.H.O. has recently spoken of a narrowing of the window of opportunity to control the epidemic,” he said. “The tipping point after which our ability to prevent a global pandemic ends seems a lot closer after the past 24 hours,” he added.

Hunter also explained that while there’s a decline in coronavirus cases in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, the extremely concerning developments in countries like Iran, Italy, and South Korea are worrisome as these may signal new cases in the next few days.

Earlier this month, Chinese president Xi Jinping acknowledged during a meeting of the Communist Party’s Politburo that the situation wasn’t getting any better. Just last week, the coronavirus infection started to spread to five prisons in China, where 447 new cases were reported.

corona virus The novel coronavirus has already infected thousands in China. World Health Organization (WHO) / Facebook