The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a pandemic, pointing to over 118,000 cases of the coronavirus illness in over 110 countries.
WHO Director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement on 11th March 2020, stating that COVID-19 is not just a public health crisis but a crisis that will touch every sector.
Dr. Ghebreyesus said the Coronavirus has terrorised the world and has a sustained risk of further global spread.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is thought to have first jumped from an animal host to humans in Wuhan, China. At least at first, most cases were seen within China and among people who had travelled there, as well as those travellers’ close contacts.
While these cases were concerning, they did not suggest a pandemic, because there was no significant spread outside China.
Meanwhile, as the total number of infections rose, so did the number of cases that spread from person-to-person within communities around the world.
Furthermore, cases have been confirmed on every continent except Antarctica and secondary disease hotspots have emerged in places such as South Korea, Italy and Iran.
All of these factors helped inform the WHO’s pandemic declaration, which signals to the world that a continued spread is likely to occur and countries should prepare for the possibility of widespread community transmission.