The director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that the new coronavirus outbreak can now be characterised as a pandemic.
The WHO defines a pandemic as global spread of a new disease. The term is most often applied to new influenza strains and used when viruses “are able to infect people easily and spread from person to person in an efficient and sustained way” in multiple regions.
The declaration refers to the spread of a disease, rather than the severity of the illness it causes.
The WHO chief said he was alarmed by the spread and severity of the outbreak, along with a lack of action taken to combat it.
“COVID-19 can be characterised as a pandemic. Pandemic is not a word to be used lightly or carelessly.
“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 fights,” said Ghebreyesus at a media briefing in Geneva.
He said he expected the number of cases and deaths would grow in the coming days and weeks.
“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus,” he said.
He also said hard-hit Iran was trying its best to control the outbreak but needed more supplies.