- Title: WHO calls coronavirus outbreak 'pandemic' for first time
- Date: 11th March 2020
- Summary: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (MARCH 11, 2020) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) HEADQUARTERS WHO LOGO WHO DIRECTOR GENERAL TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS AND EXPERTS ARRIVING AT NEWS CONFERENCE NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) DIRECTOR GENERAL, TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, SAYING: "Describing the situation as a pandemic, does not change WHO's assessment of (the) threat posed by the virus. It doesn't change what WHO is doing, and it doesn't change what countries should do. We have never been before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus, this is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus and we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time." JOURNALIST LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) DIRECTOR GENERAL, TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, SAYING: "In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries climb even higher. 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." JOURNALIST LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME, DOCTOR MICHAEL RYAN, SAYING: "We really need to focus on the word that Director General has been using for weeks: solidarity, getting the job done. We need to move now. Iran and Italy are in the frontline now, they're suffering, but I guarantee you, other countries will be in that situation very soon." JOURNALIST LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME, DOCTOR MICHAEL RYAN, SAYING: "We have, part of our international team has already left Iran, but a team will remain on the ground with the Iranian authorities. Clearly the situation in Iran is still very serious. There are still a very high number of deaths, there is a high number of sick people and while the number of cases and the intensity of surveillance has increased, we would like to see that increase even further and we would like to see more support the clinical care of sick people in Iran, both within Iran, certainly with our support and the support of the rest of the international community." JOURNALIST LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) DIRECTOR GENERAL, TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, SAYING: "We're grateful for the measures being taken in Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea to slow the virus and control their epidemics. We know that these measures are taking a heavy toll on societies and economies, just as they did in China. All countries must strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimizing economic and social disruption and respecting human rights." JOURNALIST TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) DIRECTOR GENERAL, TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, SAYING: "I remind all countries that we're calling on you to activate and scale up your emergency response mechanisms. Communicate with your people about the risks and how they can protect themselves. This is everybody's business." JOURNALISTS LISTENING
- Keywords: Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Italy and Iran Mike Ryan World Health Organization
- Reuters ID: LVA001C4M0PQF
- Location: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- City: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Switzerland
- Duration: 00:03:55
- 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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