WHO Declares Coronavirus Pandemic
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WHO Declares Coronavirus Pandemic

On Wednesday, 11-03-2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic as the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 121,000 people worldwide and has spread to more than 100 countries.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO said, “The number of affected countries has tripled and the number of cases outside China has increased thirteenfold in the past two weeks. We can expect to see a rise in the number of deaths, the number of cases and the number of affected countries in the following days and weeks ahead.”

Many countries have been able to control and suppress the outbreak while there are other world leaders who have failed to act quickly enough or drastically enough to contain the spread, added Tedros.

He mentioned that the number of new cases has significantly declined in China and South Korea and that there are 57 countries that have 10 or fewer cases and 81 countries do not have any confirmed cases.

‘Lack of resolve’

He said, “The course of this pandemic can still be changed by all the countries and we cannot state this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough! Some countries are

struggling with a lack of resolve, some are struggling with a lack of resources and some countries are struggling with a lack of capacity.”

Global health experts say that declaring a pandemic is charged with major economic and political ramifications. There could be further rattle in the already fragile world markets and could lead to more trade restrictions and stringent travel. A global pandemic is generally defined as an illness that spreads far and wide throughout the world and so far, the WHO officials had been reluctant to declare this a global pandemic.

At Georgetown University, a professor and faculty director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Lawrence Gostin said, “WHO officials needed to “make it clear” that the world was in the midst of a pandemic.”

Gostin added, ” WHO was so long “behind the curve,” as it is clear that the novel coronavirus has been a pandemic.”

Changes by the hour

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the number of cases and deaths changes by the hour and as of Wednesday morning, the infected cases have topped up to 121,564 and the death toll to 4,373 deaths across the world. The number of confirmed cases reported outside China was initially 282 cases in four countries on Jan 21 which has increased up to 32,778 cases across at least 109 countries.

The virus is decreasing in China while in other parts of the world, it is picking up pace.

  • With roughly 10,149 infections, Italy has the most cases outside China, followed by Iran and South Korea with 9,000 and 7,775 infections respectively.
  • According to Hopkins, more than 1,050 cases spread across at least 36 states in the U.S. were seen over the last week.
  • In India, the confirmed cases rose up to 73 on 12 March, with 56 Indians and rest foreign nationals. A total of 10,57,506 have been screened in India so far.


WHO had declared a pandemic previously during the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009. A coronavirus causing a pandemic is happening for the first time, said Tedros. The SARS outbreak in 2002-2003 was contained enough to avoid that classification as it was also a coronavirus.

The executive director of the WHO’s health emergency program, Dr. Mike Ryan said, we understand the implication of the word and hence health officials take the characterization very seriously.

Ryan said, ” Our help is needed by the front-line health workers in many countries. We have hospitals that need our support, we have people who need our care and we need to focus on getting our front-line health workers to do a good job by providing them the supplies, equipment and the training they require.”

He added, “Right now, all countries need to reveal their strategies.”

‘You know who you are’

On asking about the countries that are not doing enough to combat the virus, Ryan said “you know who you are” as he would not want to call out the individual countries by name.

He mentioned that there are some countries that are still using stringent testing criteria, requiring people to be over a certain age, people to be somehow linked to travel to China or people to show full symptoms. There are also some countries that have given up on tracing cases back to their original source or have not been able to stop the virus from spreading within their health-care system.

He added, “Some countries have created some confusion in the minds of the populations and risk communication as they have not been communicating well with their populations. The trust between citizens and their governments does need to come to the center.”

‘Need to Wake up. Get ready’

He said epidemics stress every component of a nation.

“Epidemics stresses the economic systems, public health systems, the hospital system, they stress trust between the government and the citizen. A lack of resilience is what we are witnessing in many cases.”

Last month, the risk assessment level on the virus was raised to its highest level of alert by the organization.

Ryan said, “For every government on the planet, this is a reality check: Wake up. Get ready. You need to be ready as the virus may be on its way. You have a duty to your citizens, you have a duty to the world, be prepared.”

Be cautious, take Precautions


As there is no vaccine currently available to prevent the disease, avoid being exposed to the virus, as it is the best way to prevent the illness.

WHO Declares Coronavirus Pandemic – Source