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WHO Declares Coronavirus Outbreak a ‘Pandemic’

by Newsweek Pakistan

Global health body slams ‘alarming levels of inaction’ by nations amid rapid spread of COVID-19

The World Health Organization on Wednesday announced that the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus had prompted the global body to regard it as a ‘pandemic.’

Addressing a press conference in Geneva, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said four countries accounted for 93 percent of the over 110,000 cases that had been reported globally thus far. “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,” he said, adding the aggressive measures being taken by Italy to contain its epidemic were an “encouraging” sign.

The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, emerged in China’s Wuhan city last year before rapidly spreading across the world and now being reported from over 114 countries. According to WHO, over 118,000 people have been infected thus far, and 4,291 deaths have been reported, with the numbers expected to climb.

In January, WHO had declared a public health emergency of international concern, its “highest level of alarm,” when there were less than 100 cases of COVID-19 outside China. At the time, the global health body had urged the world to act to prevent the spread of the disease, advocating strong preventative measures.

WHO officials have signaled for weeks that they might use the word “pandemic” as a descriptive term but stressed it does not carry legal significance. The global health body uses the term ‘pandemic’ to refer to a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time. However, the term does not examine the severity of a disease; just its geographical spread.

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