WHO: Coronavirus is now a pandemicBack

Outbreak is ‘deeply concerning,’ with ‘alarming levels of spread and severity.’

11 March The World Health Organization has described the outbreak of the coronavirus as a pandemic.

Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday, the WHO's Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus 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."

"In the days and weeks ahead we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher," he added.

He described the situation as "deeply concerning," with "alarming levels of spread and severity."

Describing the situation as a pandemic doesn't change the assessment of the threat, he added.

“It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do,” said Tedros. 

He said that countries need to “strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimizing economic and social disruption and respecting human rights.”

Tedros also pointed to counties struggling with a lack of capacity and resources to tackle the virus.