Mar 11, 2020 - Health

WHO declares coronavirus a pandemic

Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The World Health Organization announced Wednesday that it had classified the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.

What they're saying: "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," said WHO director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

  • Ghebreyesus added that the declaration "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."
  • He also noted that 114 countries have now reported cases — with 118,000 worldwide, though most are clustered in China, Italy, Iran and South Korea.

The big picture: The organization defines a pandemic as a situation where a "virus emerges and spreads around the world, and most people do not have immunity."

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