Why WHO declared the coronavirus a global pandemic

A health worker checks temperature of traveller as part of Coronavirus screening procedure at the Kotoka International Airport
  • The novel coronavirus, officially called Covid-19, is now a global pandemic.
  • A pandemic is defined as the "worldwide spread" of a new disease.
  • The declaration was made by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the decision to refer to the virus as a pandemic is due to how fast it is spreading across the globe.

Making the official declaration, he said, "WHO is deeply concerned by the alarming levels of the #coronavirus spread, severity & inaction, & expects to see the number of cases, deaths & affected countries climb even higher. Therefore, we made the assessment that #COVID19 can be characterized as a pandemic. 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 Director-General went on to encourage people to take the appropriate steps to control the virus adding that "several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled."

"Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO's assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn't change what WHO is doing, and it doesn't change what countries should do," he said.

"If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response, those with a handful of novel coronavirus cases can prevent those cases becoming clusters, and those clusters becoming community transmission."

This new declaration comes after the WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern in January 2020.

Since the virus started in Wuhan, China, there have been over 126,000 confirmed cases in more than 110 countries and territories with over 4,000 deaths.

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