WHO declares coronavirus a pandemic, citing ‘alarming levels of spread

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on March 11 declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic as the global death toll rose above 4,300 and the number of confirmed cases exceeded 121,000.

Duvar English

The World Health Organization declared on March 11 that the coronavirus outbreak spreading around the globe can now be characterized as a pandemic.

WHO Director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO is "deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity" of the outbreak.

"All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response," he said.

The WHO continues to closely monitoring spread of the virus, said Adhanom. “We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action.”

The spread of the virus can still be controlled, Adhanom said. He pointed to both China and South Korea, where outbreaks appear to be declining. “It’s doable.”

The declaration came as the number of COVID-19 cases in the world continue to skyrocket.

A pandemic is the “worldwide spread of a new disease,” according to the WHO. There’s no cut-and-dry criteria for what reaches the level of pandemic and what does not, and there is no threshold of cases or deaths that triggers the definition.