COVID-19 declared a pandemic by WHO director-general
GENEVA (March 11, 2020) – The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
A pandemic is defined as the “worldwide spread” of a new disease. Whereas, an epidemic is more than a normal number cases of an illness, specific health-related behaviour or other health-related events in a community or region, according to the World Health Organization.
“In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled.,” said Ghebreyesus.
There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives while thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals.
“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” said the WHO Director-General.
“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.
“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterised as a pandemic,” the statement reads.
“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time,” Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.
Of the 118,000 cases reported globally in 114 countries, more than 90 percent of cases are in just four countries, and two of those – China and the Republic of Korea – have significantly declining epidemics.
81 countries have not reported any cases, and 57 countries have reported 10 cases or less.
The last pandemic reported in the world was in H1N1 virus of 2009, which killed hundreds of thousands worldwide with the most severe pandemic in recent history was the Spanish flu, a 1918 influenza pandemic. which was estimated to have infected about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population and killed some 50 million worldwide.
WHO’s director-general wants to “remind all countries that we are calling on you to activate and scale up your emergency response mechanisms; Communicate with your people about the risks and how they can protect themselves – this is everybody’s business; Find, isolate, test and treat every case and trace every contact;
“Ready your hospitals,” said Ghebreyesus. “Protect and train your health workers. And let’s all look out for each other, because we need each other.”
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