Breaking: World Health Organization (WHO) declares the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic
For the first time, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on Wednesday as the novel coronavirus, which originated from Whuan China just three months ago, has rapidly spread to more than 121,000 people from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States. So far, the deadly virus has killed over 4,000 people worldwide.
“In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China has increased thirteenfold and the number of affected countries has tripled,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva. “In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher.”
Tedros said several countries have demonstrated the ability to suppress and control the outbreak, but he scolded other world leaders for failing to act quickly enough or drastically enough to contain the spread.
“We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he said, just before declaring the pandemic. “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”
Cases in China and South Korea have significantly declined, he said, adding that 81 countries don’t have any confirmed cases and 57 countries have 10 or fewer cases.
“We can not say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough: All countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” he said. “Some countries are struggling with a lack of capacity. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resources. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resolve.”
Declaring a pandemic is charged with major political and economic ramifications, global health experts say. It can further rattle already fragile world markets and lead to more stringent travel and trade restrictions. WHO officials had been reluctant to declare a global pandemic, which is generally defined as an illness that spreads far and wide throughout the world.
.@WHO Director-General: "COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. Pandemic is not a word to be used lightly or carelessly." pic.twitter.com/yD9uRQ89Yu
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 11, 2020