The deadly coronavirus outbreak can now be characterized as a pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.
“COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief told reporters in Geneva.
“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus.”
At the briefing, the WHO chief said the spread of the coronavirus is frightening.
“The spread and severity of the new and deadly coronavirus, which has infected more than 110,000 people and killed more than 4,000, is alarming. ”
“We are deeply concerned about the alarming levels of spread and severity and the alarming levels of inaction,” he added.
He predicted that the number of cases and deaths would increase in the coming days and weeks.
“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus.” he said.
He also said that Iran was hit hard, trying its best to control the outbreak, but needed more supplies.
After global COVID-19 infections exceeded the 100,000 mark, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that “the threat of a pandemic has become very real”.
But he emphasized: “even if we call it a pandemic, we can still contain and control it.
“It would be the first pandemic in history that can be controlled,” he said. “We are not at the mercy of the virus.”
He stressed that the situation varied widely in the 100 countries that have registered cases so far, with 93% of all cases located in just four states.
“Whether it’s a pandemic or not, the rules of the game are the same: never give up,” he said.
He said 79 countries registered fewer than 100 cases, and more than half of them saw less than 10 infections.
At the same time, in China, where more than 80,000 cases have been reported since the outbreak began in December, the country appears to be “controlling the epidemic,” said Tedros.
“More than 70% recovered and were discharged,” he said.
Since the emergence of the new coronavirus, 110,564 cases have been reported in 100 countries, killing 3,862 people, according to AFP data based on official sources.
Michael Ryan, who directs the WHO emergency program, pointed out that, unlike flu, which spreads much more easily, it is possible to delay the spread of COVID-19.
– ‘No white flag’ –
He expressed hope that drastic measures taken by Italy could help control the virus and would also give less-affected countries more time to prepare for wider spread.
But further acknowledged that “the disease has not run its course”.
“At the moment, I think we are still very much at the beginning or in the middle … of this fight,” he said, warning against complacency about the virus.
The WHO estimates last week that it kills 3.4% of all those infected.
For infected people over 80, the death rate appears to be over 20%, according to a report by an international mission specializing in China last month.
As for the word pandemic, “I am not concerned with the word, I am more concerned with what the world’s reaction to the word will be,” he told reporters.
Tedros also criticized those who suggest simply letting the virus run its course, pointing out that for the elderly and the weak, especially “it is very fatal”.
“If something is going to harm the world, it is a moral decay and does not take the deaths of the elderly or the elderly seriously,” he said.
“The pandemic does not mean that we say it is good to live with it … we can contain it,” he said.
The WHO defines a pandemic as a situation in which “the population of the whole world would likely be exposed to this infection and potentially a proportion of them would become ill,” said Ryan.
The word “Pandemic” is not an official WHO term and does not trigger any specific action. WHO has already released its highest level of warning – saying the world is at “high risk