COVID-19 outbreak declared a pandemic as it spreads to 123 countries

12 March 2020, Kathmandu

 The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, CNN reported.

The global health agency said there are 118,000 cases, more than 4,600 deaths and the virus has found a foothold on every continent except for Antarctica. It has already spread to 123 countries.

“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,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.

“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,” Ghebreyesus said.

A pandemic is defined as the “worldwide spread” of a new disease. Whereas, an outbreak is the occurrence of disease cases in excess of what’s normally expected and an epidemic is more than a normal number cases of an illness, specific health-related behavior or other health-related events in a community or region, according to the World Health Organization.

In January, the WHO declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. CNN announced on Monday that it is using the term pandemic to describe the current coronavirus outbreak.
The last pandemic reported in the world was the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, which killed hundreds of thousands globally.

“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,” Ghebreyesus said of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 3,169 people have died in China, the epicenter of outbreak, followed by Italy with 827 and Iran with 354 people.

The novel virus has claimed 60 people in South Korea, 55 in Spain, 48 in France, 38 in America, 15 in Japan, 8 in Britain, 5 in the Netherlands, 4 in Switzerland, 3 each in Germany and Belgium so far.

(With inputs from agencies)

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