As the World Health Association mulls over the conditions that will officially label the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, researchers at the London School of Medicine, the University of Oxford and the University of Toronto have identified 15 cities next most likely to experience major outbreaks in the near future.

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Southeast Asia dominates the destinations

Dominating the list are metropolitan areas in Southeast Asia, with Bangkok at the top, followed by Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur. Additional cities in the region include Phnom Penh, Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Denpasar Bali and Manado, both in Indonesia. Given their proximity to China, the original source of the outbreak, those results were not greeted with any surprises.

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However, the top-15 list included cities elsewhere in the world deemed especially vulnerable to a coronavirus outbreak, citing Kathmandu in Nepal, Tehran, Rome and Lagos in Nigeria.

Some cities can handle it better than others

While residents and visitors to those destinations might have plenty to worry about, the stats are mitigated according to criteria set by the Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index (IDVI). Using a scale ranging from zero to one, the index measures a metropolitan area's ability to handle an infectious disease.

Tokyo, for example, is reportedly best equipped to handle the coronavirus according to its IDVI rating of 0.926. Other cities with similar abilities include Seoul (0.879) and Singapore (0.878). Those with the lowest ratings include Lagos (0.271), Phnom Penh (0.355) and Kathmandu (0.404).

That said, Rome was listed among the cities most capable of managing the virus at 0.822. However, with 400 cases recently reported in Italy, medical officials are concerned that a pandemic pipeline from the country could spread the infection all over Europe.

Iran could also be spreading the virus elsewhere

But another forthcoming study involving Yale researchers revealed that other countries could also be vulnerable to the virus, this time spreading from Iran, which is suspected of underreporting its numbers of infected cases. Already reports of cases emerging in Iraq, Syria and Turkey have had those origins traced back to Iran.

Using air travel data and lengths of visitor stays in Iran, the study revealed concerned that other nations that could be vulnerable include Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Canada.

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