WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that the organization rated Covid-19 as a pandemic and urged nations to deal aggressively.
“We are deeply concerned both about the spread, the severity of the epidemic and the alarming indifference of many parties. Therefore, we make the assessment that Covid-19 can be considered a major one. translation, “Tedros said at a press conference in Switzerland today.
Tedros said the number of cases outside mainland China has increased 13-fold in the past two weeks. “We expect the number of infections, deaths and affected countries to rise even higher over the next few days and weeks,” he added.
Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergency response program, said during a press conference that the organization’s use of the word “pandemic” to describe Covid-19 did not change their way of coping.
The WHO declared a global emergency state on January 30 when there were fewer than 100 cases of nCoV outside China. Currently, outbreaks appear in 120 countries and territories. More than 122,000 people were infected, more than 4,300 died and more than 67,000 recovered. In particular, mainland China recorded nearly 81,000 cases, more than 3,100 deaths and nearly 62,000 people recovered.
In fact, WHO is no longer categorized as “pandemic”, except for influenza. WHO officials have signaled for weeks that they can use the word “pandemic” as a descriptive term but emphasize that it has no legal meaning. Covid-19 is not the flu.
WHO has declared the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic a pandemic, which is at risk of serious global impact. However, the epidemic was later deemed not too serious, prompting WHO to criticize it for exaggerating the problem. A WHO spokesman on February 24 said it had “no longer used the old severity classification system that some people may be familiar with since 2009”.
“Pandemic is not a word that can be used easily or indiscriminately,” Tedros said, but emphasized that “describing the situation as a pandemic does not change the WHO’s assessment of a virus threat.”.
Tedros said some countries have shown the ability to prevent and control the outbreak, but some world leaders have not acted fast or strong enough. “Every day we urge nations to act quickly and aggressively. We have rung a very loud and clear alarm.”
He pointed out that the number of new infections in China and South Korea has decreased significantly in recent days, 81 countries have not registered the epidemic and 57 countries have recorded less than 10 cases.
“All countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” he said. “Some countries are struggling because of lack of capacity. Some countries are struggling due to a lack of resources. But some countries are struggling with a lack of determination.”
WHO calls Iran and Italy, the two largest epidemic regions outside of mainland China, “new frontlines” in the battle against Covid-19. “They are severely affected but I assure you that other countries will soon fall into that situation,” Ryan said.
Tedros said that Iran is trying its best to control the epidemic but needs more support. They are short of ventilators and protective equipment for health workers.
Experts assess that the WHO declared a pandemic could have major political and economic impact. This move could make the world market more volatile and lead to more restrictive travel and trade.