GENEVA — The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared coronavirus “a global pandemic.”
At a news conference in Geneva at WHO headquarters, head of the UN health agency, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that over the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases outside China increased 13-fold and tripled in the number of countries where it occurs.
“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and the severity and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he said.
“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic,” Tedros added.
There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives, while 81 countries have no cases so far, he said.
“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus,” said Tedros.
He said the world had also never seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time. adding some countries were not taking action to stem the disease.
“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do,” said Tedros.
Of the 118,000 cases reported globally in 114 countries, more than 90 percent of cases are in just four countries, he said and that two of those — China and South Korea — have significantly declining epidemics.
“If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace, and mobilize their people in the response, those with a handful of cases can prevent those cases becoming clusters, and those clusters becoming community transmission,” said Tedros.
All countries needed to strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimizing economic and social disruption, and respecting human rights.
“This is not just a public health crisis; it is a crisis that will touch every sector — so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight,” Tedros noted. (Anadolu)