GENEVA, Switzerland – The World Health Organization has declared the ongoing coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
"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," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “We have therefore made the assessment that #COVID19 can be characterized as a pandemic”
By definition, a pandemic is an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population.
Ghebreyesus says the number of COVID-19 cases outside of China has increased 13-fold and the number of affected countries has tripled.
“There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 people have lost their lives,” said Ghebreyesus.
In the days and weeks ahead, experts expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher.
"Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” said Ghebreyesu. “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"
Ghebreyesu says describing the outbreak as a pandemic doesn’t change WHO’s assessment of the threat the virus poses or what the organization is doing to combat it.
According to Ghebreyesu, some of the hardest hit countries are seeing some progress in the fight against the virus.
"Of the 118,000 COVID-19 cases reported globally in 114 countries, more than 90 percent of cases are in just four countries, and two of those China and South Korea, have significantly declining epidemics," said Ghebreyesu.
Watch WHO provide an update over the pandemic:
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a U.S. House committee Wednesday that the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. is going to get worse.
"I can say we will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now," said Fauci.
CDC Director Robert Redfield reports that U.S. virus deaths are now up to 31 and confirmed cases are over 1,000 in the country.
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