"It's not a question of whether we declare a pandemic. We may recognize a pandemic - the criteria are not met yet," Thieren said, adding that using the word "pandemic" would imply that measures being taken were futile and that cases of the virus could no longer be traced to their source, which is not the case.
"Here in Latvia, definitely we can trace all the cases," said Thieren, explaining that Latvia had not yet reached the stage of "community transmission" of the coronavirus.
"The WHO declared the event as a public health event of international concern. It has called for maximum solidarity with all countries," Thieren said, explaining that the WHO used a system of three phases of the virus, the first being when there are just a few cases. This is the level at which Latvia is currently.
The second level involves limited human to human transmission, and the third phase is what he referred to as "community transmission".
Latvia has its own particular characteristics and the response in the country should take these into account, he said.
However, there were simple measures everyone could take, he said.
"Solidarity starts with washing our hands and reminding others to wash their hands," he advised,a theme taken up by the SPKC shortly afterwards with placards appearing in Latvian passenger trains instructing the public in how to wash their hands properly.
Sadarbībā ar @PVilciens vilcienu vagonos ir izvietoti plakāti par pareizu roku 👐 mazgāšanu. Ja pārvietojies vilcienā, tad izmanto laiku ⏱ lietderīgi un apgūsti pareizu roku mazgāšanas tehniku! pic.twitter.com/iQkmzCYW0Z— SPKC.gov.lv (@SPKCentrs) March 11, 2020
Dr Michel Thieren began his career in 1989 with Médecins sans Frontières as a physician in Thailand's refugee camps. Since then he has held various positions in the WHO and other United Nations agencies.