WHO declares new coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressing newspersons in Geneva on Wednesday.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the new coronavirus disease a global pandemic after it infected more than 120,000 people across Asia, Europe and the US. The number of COVID-19 cases outside China, where it originated, has increased 13 times in the last two weeks while the number of countries affected has tripled, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

“We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” Ghebreyesus told newspersons at the WHO headquarters before declaring the outbreak a global pandemic. He said the number of deaths and the number of infections could multiply in coming days. The WHO chief said he is concerned both by the spread and severity of the outbreak as well as by the level of inaction.

READ: Urbanisation, climate change to hit quality, availability of water

The WHO action will have major economic and political repercussions as it will lead to travel and trade curbs. This could hit the global economy and world markets. There has been a significant decline in the number of cases in China and South Korea, he said, adding that 81 nations have not reported a single case.

There has been 121,564 confirmed cases and 4,373 deaths across the world, said a report citing data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The infection has spread to 109 countries apart from China, where 32,778 cases have been reported. The death toll in Italy has gone up to 827 while the number of infections in the country rose to 12,462.

READ: Climate change will destroy half of world’s beaches, says report

India has suspended all tourist visas to stop the spread of infection. “All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till April 15, 2020,” an official statement said.