World Health Organization (WHO),
Has declared the coronavirus (Covid-19) sweeping across the world is a pandemic. It is concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.
The novel virus was unknown to world health officials just three months ago, which has rapidly spread to more than 121,000 people from Asia to the Middle East, Europe and the United States.
Declaring a pandemic is charged with major political and economic ramifications. It can further rattle already fragile world markets and lead to more stringent travel and trade restrictions.
Meanwhile, the WHO continues to closely monitoring spread of the virus. There are large outbreaks of the virus in Italy, South Korea, and the United States.
In the US, the slow rollout of testing and limited testing capacity has crippled response to the disease.
The spread of the virus can still be controlled. In China and South Korea, the outbreaks appear to be declining.
A pandemic is the “worldwide spread of a new disease,” according to the WHO. There’s no cut-and-dry criteria for what reaches the level of pandemic and what does not, and there is no threshold of cases or deaths that triggers the definition.
The WHO classified the novel coronavirus as a global public health emergency on January 30th.
Until now, they’ve been reluctant to call the outbreak a pandemic over concerns that it would incite unnecessary panic, though they’d been warning countries to prepare for a pandemic.
The last time the WHO declared a pandemic was during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, which infected nearly a quarter of the world’s population.
However, that decision was criticised for creating unnecessary panic. SARS was not considered a pandemic, despite affecting people in 26 countries, and neither was MERS.
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