The World Health Organisation on Wednesday declared the novel coronavirus a “pandemic” as more than 4,000 people died and the infected toll shot above 120,000 across the globe.
Addressing a press conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside of China has risen 13-fold over the past two weeks.
The body “has been assessing this outbreak around the clock” and was “deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity as well as the inaction”, he said.
“We have therefore made the assessment that #COVID19 can be characterised as a pandemic,” Ghebreyesus added.In total, the number of countries where the virus has spread has tripled over the same time period.
“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”-@DrTedros #COVID19
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 11, 2020
“There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, & 4,291 people have lost their lives,” he said. “Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals,” he noted, warning that in the near future, the number of cases, deaths, and affected countries could skyrocket even higher.
Noting that “pandemic” was not a word to use lightly or carelessly, the WHO top official underlined: “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.”
The WHO, which has been in a full-response mode, has “called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action”, Ghebreyesus said.
More than 90% of the 118,000 coronavirus cases reported in 114 countries are in only four countries, of which two — China and South Korea — “have significantly declining epidemics”.
He informed the media that there were no coronavirus cases in 81 countries, while 57 of those that had reported had 10 cases or less. “We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” he said.