GENEVA, Feb. 18 (CNA) - The new novel coronavirus only causes mild disease for 80 per cent of infected patients, said the World Health Organization on Monday (Feb 17).

The COVID-19 virus death toll has surpassed 1,800 in China, where it has infected more than 70,500.

Speaking to reporters, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that 14 per cent of patients would have severe diseases such as pneumonia.

"Around five percent of cases are considered critical with possible multi-organ failure, septic shock and respiratory failure and, in some cases, death," he added.

Tedros also said there were "relatively few cases" among children and more research was needed to understand why.