The World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic on Wednesday as the novel coronavirus — unknown to the world just three short months ago — has swept the world and spread to more than 121,000 people from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and now even large areas of the United States, reports CNBC.
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Coronavirus: a global pandemic
A global pandemic is generally defined as an illness that spreads to every reach of the world, threatening human life and activity wherever it goes.
"In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China increased thirteenfold and the number of affected countries has tripled," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference at the WHO's HQ in Geneva.
Tedros pointed to hope in the form of several countries that have successfully suppressed and controlled the deadly pandemic. But he scolded world leaders who failed to take drastic action quickly enough to curb the spread of the pandemic virus.
"We're deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction," said Tedros, moments before declaring the pandemic.
"We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear," he said.
COVID-19 cases in China and Korea decline
Cases of the deadly virus in China and Korea have fallen sharply, Tedros said, pointing to the 81 countries that have yet to confirm cases of the pandemic virus, in addition to 57 countries with 10 or fewer cases.
"We can not say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough, all countries can still change the course of this pandemic," Tedros said. "Some countries are struggling with a lack of capacity. Some countries are struggling with lack of resources. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resolve."
The WHO declaring a global pandemic is an action with serious political and economic ramifications for the entire world, global health experts said, according to CNBC. It can exacerbate already-fragile global markets, and set precedent for additional travel and trade restrictions. WHO officials were reluctant to categorize the deadly coronavirus as a global pandemic for these reasons.
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