Michael Staines
Michael Staines

16.30 11 Mar 2020


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The World Health Organisation has declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

In a briefing this evening WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases of the disease had increased 13-fold outside of China in the past two weeks.

He said the number of affected countries had tripled.

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Dr Tedros said officials are “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction.”

“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” he said.

“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 warned that the pandemic descriptor does not change the WHO's assessment of the threat level nor does it change what it is doing in response to the outbreak.

“Urgent and aggressive action”

He said countries around the world must continue to take “urgent and aggressive action” in response to the virus.

“We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” he said.

"If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace, and mobilize their people in the response, those with a handful of COVID-19 cases can prevent those cases becoming clusters, and those clusters becoming community transmission.

“Even those countries with community transmission or large clusters can turn the tide on this coronavirus.”

“Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled.”

COVID-19

There are currently over 121,500 confirmed cases of the virus around the world, spanning every continent except Antarctica.

The vast majority are in Mainland China, with nearly 81,000 cases.

Italy is now the worst-affected country outside of China with nearly 12,500 cases and 827 deaths.

Nearly 200 people died in the country in the last 24 hours.

There have been 617 deaths in the worst-affected region of Lombardy.

The entire country is now on COVID-19 lockdown and Irish people have been warned not to travel there.

Meanwhile, there have been 9,000 cases in Iran, over 7,500 in South Korea and over 2,000 in Spain.

There are over 1,700 cases in France, 1,600 in Germany and 1,000 in the US.

Pandemic

A pandemic is defined as a disease that has spread across a large region in an uncontrolled manner. The WHO defines it as an "outbreak of a new pathogen that spreads easily from person to person across the globe."

Previous pandemics include HIV/AIDS, the 1968 flu pandemic and the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.

The last one to be announced was the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009.

 


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