The United States has the potential to become the new epicenter of the novel coronavirus pandemic due to a "very large acceleration" in infections in the country, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

The highly contagious respiratory virus has been confirmed in more than 46,000 people in the United States, prompting more governors to order Americans to stay at home.

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered Britons to stay at home to halt the spread of the virus, imposing curbs on everyday life without precedent in peacetime.

Related: 'We are seeing many doctors falling ill' with coronavirus, Italian doctor says

And in Italy, the death toll from an outbreak of the coronavirus rose by more than 600 on Monday.

Over the past 24 hours, 85% of new cases worldwide were from Europe and the United States, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters. Of those, 40% were from the United States.

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb around the world, how will already strained hospital healthcare systems respond?

In a Facebook Live Q&A, The World's Elana Gordon moderated a discussion with Paul Biddinger, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Disaster Medicine and chief of the Division of Emergency Preparedness, addressing the challenges ranging from surges of sick patients to obtaining crucial supplies.

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