The World Health Organisation has officially declared the 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 director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO on Wednesday, "We have therefore made the assessment that #COVID19 can be characterised as a pandemic."
He further reiterated that characterising the outbreak did not change the stance of the WHO, nor how it saw the situation at hand. "(This) does not change WHOâ€™s assessment of the threat posed by the coronavirus. It doesnâ€™t change what WHO is doing, and it doesnâ€™t change what countries should do,â€ť he said.
A pandemic is a worldwide outbreak of a new disease which has not been previously seen before. An influenza pandemic specifically occurs when a new strain of the influenza virus arises and spreads across the world. Since it is a new strain, most people are not naturally immune to the virus. In the past, most pandemics have occurred when a virus that commonly infected animals, began infecting people.
â€śAll countries must strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimising economic and social disruption, and respecting human rights,â€ť stated the director.
There are now 114 countries across the world that have reported positive cases of the coronavirus disease. As of Wednesday over 118,000 cases have been confirmed across the globe and the death toll amounts to a little over 4,200. Several countries have begun issuing travel advisories in view of the outbreak and have restricted travel to and fromcertain areas. India has suspended all visas except diplomatic, official, employment, project or international organisation visa until April 15.
Officials have been stressing precautionary measures, which include hand washing and avoiding large gatherings. Several schools and colleges across India have issued holidays in view of the outbreak.