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The World Health Organization (WHO) today declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a global pandemic. The coronavirus that causes respiratory illness was first reported in China in December and quickly spread to other countries.
In a press briefing, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of affected countries has tripled in the past two weeks. More than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 related deaths have been confirmed by public health officials. These numbers are expected to continue to climb.
It is the first pandemic to be caused by a coronavirus. The last pandemic involved H1N1, or “swine flu,” in 2009. Pandemic is a term used to describe a disease that has spread widely in a region, across continents or around the world.
In a statement, WHO’s Director-General said: “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.
“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.”
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