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WHO Labels COVID-19 a ‘Pandemic’

“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” WHO chief says

The World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified the international coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a "pandemic" on Wednesday.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified the international coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a “pandemic” on Wednesday.

“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and the alarming levels of inaction,” WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated at a news conference in Geneva. “We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized by ‘pandemic.’”

He continued, “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly…We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough. All countries can still change the course of this pandemic.”

The World Health Organization defines a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease,” or an epidemic that crosses borders. Ghebreyesus clarified that the reclassification is “not a trigger for anything.”

There are currently more than 1,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 122,000 cases worldwide, with 4,300 confirmed deaths. On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that two-thirds of the German population were likely to contract the virus, following outbreaks in Italy and across East Asia.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States have increased ten-fold in the past week, and several high-profile international events such as South by Southwest and Coachella have been canceled or postponed.

In This Article: coronavirus, covid-19