Journalism of Courage

WHO declares coronavirus outbreak a pandemic

 

The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, after resisting the classification for months as the number of worldwide cases soared well past 100,000.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted the group’s deep concern about the “alarming levels of spread” as well as “alarming levels of inaction” in addressing the coronavirus.

Though many infectious disease experts for weeks have asserted the current outbreak is a pandemic, given the disease’s spread across virtually every continent, WHO’s formal declaration signals an elevated warning over a virus that’s spread to more than 100 countries.

“We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” Tedros said.

The decision to label the virus a pandemic was made deliberately, Tedros said, noting that the term can unnecessarily spark fear or suggest the disease has grown beyond an ability to fight it. He stressed that the coronavirus could still be contained, pointing out that new cases are on the wane in hard-hit countries China, South Korea and Singapore.

“Eighty-one countries have no cases, so they should do everything they can to prevent new cases from entering,” he said.

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