Coronavirus testing is a top priority: WHO

The head of the World Health Organisation says social distancing and other measures to limit contact can help fight the spread of the coronavirus, but testing people is its number one priority.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the COVID-19 outbreak is the "defining global health crisis of our time" and will be "a test of our resolve".

"We have not seen an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing, which is the backbone of the response" to determine who is sick, he said on Monday.

"You cannot fight a fire blindfolded and we cannot stop this pandemic if we don't know who is infected," he said.

"We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test."