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WHO declares Coronavirus a pandemic

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO

By Oluwafunke Ishola

Lagos, March 11, 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak a pandemic.

Pandemic is an epidemic of disease that has spread across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or worldwide.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, during a media briefing on Wednesday, said that WHO has been assessing the outbreak and was deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread, severity, and levels of inaction.

“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.

“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.

“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,” he said.

According to him, WHO has been in full response mode since it was notified of the first cases, and have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action.

“We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.

“As I said on Monday, just looking at the number of COVID-19 cases and the number of countries affected does not tell the full story.

“In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold and the number of affected countries has tripled.

“There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives.

“Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals,” he said.

Ghebreyesus warned that in the days and weeks ahead, WHO expect to see the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths,and affected countries climb even higher.

He advised all countries to strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimising economic and social disruption and respecting human rights.

“WHO’s mandate is public health. But we’re working with many partners across all sectors to mitigate the social and economic consequences of this COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector – so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight,” he said

He stressed that countries must take a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach, built around a comprehensive strategy to prevent infections, save lives and minimize impact.

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