- Title: WHO calls coronavirus outbreak 'pandemic' for first time
- Date: 11th March 2020
- Summary: NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS WHO ENTRANCE WHO LOGO
- Keywords: Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Italy and Iran Mike Ryan World Health Organization
- Reuters ID: LVA003C4M0PQF
- Location: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- City: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Switzerland
- Duration: 00:00:15
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: The World Health Organization described the new coronavirus as a pandemic for the first time on Wednesday (March 11), adding that Italy and Iran were now on the frontline of the disease and other countries would soon join them.
"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 characterised as a pandemic," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.
He urged the global community to redouble efforts to contain the outbreak, saying aggressive measures could still play a big role to curb it.
While he acknowledged the characterisation did not change what WHO was doing or what countries needed to do, it sounded an alarm the organisation has not used so far as the virus spreads.
WHO officials have signalled for weeks that they may use the word "pandemic" as a descriptive term but have stressed that it does not carry legal significance. The WHO no longer has a category for declaring a pandemic, except for influenza. The novel coronavirus is not the flu.
Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's emergencies programme, said the situation in Iran was "very serious" and the agency would like to see more surveillance and more care for the sick.
(Production: Cecile Mantovani)
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- Embargoed:25th March 2020 19:31
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