World Health Organization declares coronavirus a pandemic

Coronavirus was declared a pandemic Wednesday by the World Health Organization as cases spread to at least 114 countries.

“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,” WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters, adding that it “therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”

The virus, which first emerged in Wuhan, China, has now reached on Wednesday more than 118,000 people, causing at least 4,291 deaths.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of COVID-19 cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” Tedros said.

Tedros has previously said that a health situation reaches the pandemic level when there’s “large-scale severe disease or deaths,” as well as “uncontained global spread of the virus.”

“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death,” he said Wednesday.

Tedros called on countries to “take urgent and aggressive action” — saying that the new designation has “rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”

“Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled. The challenge for many countries who are now dealing with large clusters or community transmission is not whether they can do the same — it’s whether they will,” he said.

Tedros praised Iran, Italy and South Korea for their recent measures to control outbreaks.

“We know that these measures are taking a heavy toll on societies and economies, just as they did in China,” 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 resources. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resolve,” he continued.

“We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic.”

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