The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a “pandemic” on Wednesday, saying it now meets the United Nations organization’s definition.
“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,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, said at a news conference in Geneva.
WHO defines a pandemic as “the world spread of a new disease.”
“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” Ghebreyesus said. “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”
At least 4,575 people have died, though all but 1,413 deaths occurred in mainland China, where the disease originated.
Ghebreyesus explained classifying the coronavirus 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.”
“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”-@DrTedros #COVID19
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 11, 2020
“We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” Ghebreyesus said.
According to The Times, approximately 1,100 people in the U.S. have tested positive for the coronavirus in 40 states. At least 31 deaths have been linked to the illness.
Vice President Mike Pence announced Tuesday the nation’s largest health insurance companies have agreed to waive all co-payments for coronavirus testing and treatment.
“I’m pleased to report, as you requested, Mr. President, that all the insurance companies here either today or before today have agreed to waive all co-pays on coronavirus testing and extend coverage for coronavirus treatment in their benefit plans,” he said.
“We want people to get tested,” Pence added.
At a briefing of the coronavirus task force Tuesday evening, the vice president said, “President Trump said from early on that this would be a whole-of-government approach.”
Cost shouldn’t be a barrier to getting tested and treated for Coronavirus—and today marked a major breakthrough. pic.twitter.com/IelAbIjZnv
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 11, 2020
“We’re bringing the full resources of the federal government and the full resources of — of this great economy and our great business sector to bear in protecting the American people and protecting American families.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.