The spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in over 100 countries now qualifies as a global pandemic, announced World Health Organisation officials on Wednesday.
"We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) told the press.
"We have, therefore, made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic. '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 added.
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So far, the WHO avoided using the word 'pandemic' to the describe the rapid spread of the coronavirus, as it was afraid that the term would give the impression that the virus was unstoppable, and countries would give up on trying to contain it.
A pandemic is "the worldwide spread of a new disease" that is easily transmitted from person to person, according to the WHO.
As there is evidence of sustained transmission of the virus in six continents, with countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Oceania all reporting cases, resulting in over 120,000 infected and more than 4,300 killed people, the spread qualifies as a pandemic by most scientific measures.
“We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic," he added.
The Brussels Times