The World Health Organization (WHO) has made the assessment that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will be officially classified as a pandemic. The decision was announced in a press conference on March 11, and shared on Twitter
“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,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said.
The decision comes as several countries appear to be struggling with the resource burden of COVID-19 cases. Italy, in particular, has been inundated with cases. The country has at least 10,150 confirmed cases and 631 deaths. Italy imposed a dramatic nationwide lockdown this week—closing schools, public spaces and tourist attractions, canceling events, and restricting travel until at least April 3. The suspension of visitation rights at crowded Italian prisons led to riots at 27 facilities.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that as much as 70% of the country’s population might contract the virus. Berlin authorities have banned all events with more than 1,000 participants.
In Iran, the total number of infections rose past 9,000. The country is struggling with access to basic medical supplies. Several members of the Iranian government have themselves contracted COVID-19. The government released a portion of the country's prison population to curb the spread of the spread of the virus inside its prison system.
Several countries have introduced travel restrictions, though experts have advised
that these policies may not be the most important step in curbing the pandemic.
There have been more than 118,000 cases confirmed in 114 countries, with 4291 deaths. The majority of cases, however, have been mild in nature. Those with underlying health conditions and older adults are at the greatest risk for complications from COVID-19.
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