The World Health Organization(WHO) has declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
“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 characterized as a pandemic.”
The WHO defines a pandemic as the “worldwide spread of a new disease.” The classification only refers to the spread of an epidemic, rather than the disease's severity.
Announcing the pandemic assessment during Wednesday's briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned against the mistaken impression that the virus has taken over or the fight is finished.
He stressed that all countries can still change the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
“.. 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... ”
“We are grateful for the measures being taken in Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea to slow the virus and control their epidemics.”
Tedros said if countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize, they could prevent a handful of COVID-19 cases from becoming infection clusters or community infections.
The WHO declared the novel coronavirus a global public health emergency in January but had so far resisted calls to classify the outbreak a pandemic.
The new coronavirus is the first pandemic since 2009, when H1N1 influenza, commonly known as swine flu, infected millions of people around the globe.