Coronavirus declared a pandemic by World Health Organisation
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic.
It's the first time coronavirus has been given the serious classification by the organisation, which last month it said it would never do.
"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," director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing on Wednesday.
"Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.
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"Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO's assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn't change what WHO is doing, and it doesn't change what countries should do."
WHO has avoided classifying coronavirus as a pandemic since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019.
Instead of the word "pandemic" it opted to use the phrase "Public Health Emergency of International Concern", but has broken with its own rules in order to classify the coronavirus.
More than 115,000 people in 14 countries around the world have tested positive for the virus and more than 4,200 patients have died.
Tedros says it is a "crisis that affects every sector" and that "this is everybody's business".
He says looking at the number of cases reported and number of countries affected "doesn't tell the full story".
"All countries can still change the course of this pandemic."
Swift action can prevent larger clusters and community transmission and even if they fail to do so "they can turn the tide", he said, adding that the challenge is not whether countries can change the course of the virus, but whether they will.
He says some countries are struggling with a lack of resources, but some are struggling with a lack of resolve.
Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme also told a news conference the situation in Iran was "very serious" and the agency would like to see more surveillance and more care for the sick.
- World Health Organisation
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