On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
A pandemic is a term that refers to the spread of a disease, not the deadliness or potency. The WHO classifies a pandemic as “an outbreak of a new pathogen that spreads easily from person to person across the globe.” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general, used the term in a press conference held on Wednesday afternoon. The disease has now spread to over 100 countries with more than 120,000 confirmed cases globally.
The last pandemic declared by the WHO was just over a decade ago, in 2009 for the H1N1 virus. Dr. Tedros added, “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.”
Following the WHO’s announcement, US President Trump announced a travel ban on Europe for the next 30 days. All travel from European countries, excluding the UK, would be suspended and will go in effect Friday, March 13 at midnight. The restrictions would not apply to US citizens and permanent residents, and most of their family members.
The US currently has reported more than 1,000 cases, and the number will likely increase as testing continues. Meanwhile in China, new cases have been dropping off as makeshift hospitals in Wuhan have discharged their last patients.
[Cover image via Unsplash]