Coronavirus officially declared pandemic by World Health Organisation

Covid-19 has officially been declared a pandemic (Picture: Getty Images)

Covid-19 has officially been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: ‘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 WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. 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. 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.’

Dr Tedros then went on to say that the WHO had called for countries to take ‘urgent and aggressive action’ against Covid-19 ‘every day’.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said pandemic is ‘not a word to use lightly’ (Picture: EPA)
The virus has spread around the world (Picture: AFP)
The WHO have urged countries to take ‘urgent and aggressive action’ against the virus (Picture: Getty Images)

He stated that the challenge is not whether countries can change the course of the virus, but whether they will do so, with some struggling with a lack of capacity while others have a lack of resolve.

Dr Tedros continued: ‘If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace, and mobilise 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.’

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He added: ‘This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector – so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight.’

Listing off the ways in which the pandemic can be defeated, he urged countries to ‘activate and scale up’ their emergency response mechanisms, and communicate with the public about the risks and ‘how they can protect themselves’.

He said: ‘I remind all countries that we are calling on you to ready your hospitals [and] protect and train your health workers. Let’s all look out for each other.’

The outbreak first started in China (Picture: AFP)
The spread of the virus has caused some countries to implement travel restrictions (Picture: SWNS)
It is estimated there are 121,000 cases across the world (Picture: Reuters)

According to the Dictionary of Epidemiology, a pandemic is defined as ‘an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people’.

By contrast, an outbreak is classed as a ‘sudden increase in occurrences of a disease in a particular time and place’. This could be a small group, but has the potential to impact ‘thousands’ across an ‘entire continent’.

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The last pandemic to hit the world was H1N1 influenza, in 2009. SARS, MERS and Ebola did not qualify as a pandemics, despite killing thousands of people.

A pandemic does not necessarily have to be deadly – one in five people worldwide caught H1N1 influenza, but it had an overall mortality rate of around 0.02%.

So-far, around 4,300 people have died from Covid-19 across the globe, while an estimated 121,000 cases have been reported.

Six people have died from the virus in the UK, while two Brits have lost their lives overseas after becoming infected.

Today’s the number of Covid-19 cases in the UK rose to 456 – a daily increase of 83.

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