The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, a pandemic.
As of March 10, 2020 the COVID-19 virus, which health experts believe originated in China, has infected more than 113,000 people worldwide and killed more than 4,000, according to the WHO.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday that, “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 the WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus,” Ghebreyesus added. “It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.”
Ghebreyesus stressed that evidence suggests this coronavirus can be controlled if each country takes appropriate measures.
“The challenge for many countries who are now dealing with large COVID-19 clusters or community transmission is not whether they can do the same — it’s whether they will,” Ghebreyesus said.
“We are grateful for the measures being taken in Iran, Italy and South Korea to slow the virus and control their COVID-19 epidemics,” he continued. “We know that these measures are taking a heavy toll on societies and economies, just as they did in China.”