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WHO labels coronavirus outbreak a pandemic as cases spread globally

WHO director-general maintains countries can still "change the course" of the outbreak

Coronavirus

The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially confirmed the novel coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, after cases rapidly increased in countries across the world.

The confirmation came from WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said that the COVID-19 outbreak – the disease caused by the novel coronavirus – could now be characterised as a pandemic, during a press conference held yesterday.

He maintained that while COVID-19 is now confirmed as a pandemic, countries still had the power to “change the course” of the outbreak if they “detect, test, treat, isolate, trace, and mobilise their people in the response”.

A pandemic is used only to classify epidemics which are growing in a number of countries and continents simultaneously. It refers only to the spread of a disease, rather than its mortality rate or its potency.

There are now over 118,000 cases of COVID-19 across 114 countries, with current deaths caused by the disease standing at 4,291 – according the WHO’s latest figures.

Currently, the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in UK stand at 460, with eight people who had tested positive for the virus having died.

Later today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will decide if new measures are to be taken to contain the spread of the virus, with a likely move from the ‘containment’ stage of the UK’s response plan to the ‘delay’ stage.

That could include introducing ‘social distancing’ measures such as a restriction on public gatherings of a certain size and a broadening of self-isolating advice to include those who have even minor respiratory symptoms.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has imposed new travel restrictions on flights from Europe in a move to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Travellers arriving from 26 European countries in the Schengen border-free travel area will not be allowed into the US – although this does not apply to US citizens, or the UK and Ireland.

The US travel ban closely followed an announcement from its Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it would suspend all foreign inspections through April, after careful consideration and on the recommendation of state and government authorities.

In China – the epicentre of the outbreak – health authorities have said that the peak in the country is over as cases have slowed over the last seven days in the country.

China has enforced a number of strict measures on movement, placing the city of Wuhan – where the virus first emerged last year – on lockdown in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

12th March 2020

From: Healthcare

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