The WHO statement of coronavirus as a pandemic comes as the result of an increase in reported cases across the globe.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director General, has stated that, following the high number of coronavirus cases, the outbreak has been characterized as a pandemic.
At a press conference, the Director General informed that, in the last two weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases has multiplied by 13 in China, ground zero for the outbreak; 118,000 cases have been registered in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have died from the virus.
“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. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic,” said Ghebreyesus.
What does it mean that the WHO has declared a pandemic?
Characterizing an infection as a pandemic is a recognition of sustained, widespread circulation of this agent across the world. That means that it is already present in many different countries, and that the number of contagion cases has increased as predicted. The current predicted mortality rates for the new COVID-19 coronavirus put it in a range similar to other serious respiratory infections caused by a virus. Like the common cold, it is particularly dangerous for people with other pathologies, compromised immune systems, and the elderly.
According to The Conversation, the best way to combat this infection is through speedy diagnosis and early treatment. However, the conditions for this vary from one country to another, with developing countries being the most vulnerable due to lacking health facilities.
There are other factors that can affect how much the virus spreads, like the weather and the seasons (coronaviruses tend to circulate seasonally, especially in the winter), and the country’s demographic. Basically, the younger the population, the more benign the illness, contrary to what happens in aging societies.
Written by Lau Almaraz