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The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday officially upgraded the COVID-19 covonavirus outbreak to a pandemic.
A pandemic describes a global-scale health emergency.
An outbreak or “health emergency“, which is what the COVID-19 coronavirus emergency has been called up until now, highlights an unusually high number of a specific illness.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 11, 2020
Although more than 60 000 people have recovered from the virus, WHO believes that some countries have more work in store to contain the spread of the virus.
“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO general-director.
“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,” he added.
At the time of writing there have been more than 115 000 cases, with over 4000 deaths across more than 100 countries.
In South Africa, 13 cases have been identified. Other countries, like hard-hit Italy, have seen more than 10 000 cases to date with Iran and South Korea not far behind.
Still, 81 countries have not reported any cases. This, Ghebreyesus believes, is a sign that the virus can be contained.
“We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” he concluded.
Memeburn’s rolling COVID-19 coronavirus coverage
For more details on the COVID-19 outbreak, including breaking news, reliable sources to follow, online information and courses, and more, bookmark our coronavirus hub here.
- Follow our Twitter list of scientists, government personnel and reporters covering the outbreak.
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Feature image: Andy Walker/Memeburn