COVID-19 IS a pandemic: WHO

KATHMANDU: The World Health Organisation (WHO), in its latest statement, has characterised COVID-19 as a pandemic.

"In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold & the number of affected countries has tripled.  There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, & 4,291 people have lost their lives," Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO said in the latest media briefing.

"Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals. In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of COVID-19 cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher."

He further said, "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"

The WHO thus concluded that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. However, the organisation has issued a caution that the word pandemic cannot be used lightly or carelessly since it can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering.

"Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.

We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus.

And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.  

WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases.  

And we have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action.

We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear. "