For the first time, the World Health Organization called the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, a pandemic.
WHO defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease for which most people do not have immunity.
There are 118,000 cases, more than 4,000 deaths, the agency said, and the virus has found a foothold on every continent except for Antarctica.
“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.
“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.”
“Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled,” Ghebreyesus said.
A pandemic is defined as the “worldwide spread” of a new disease. Whereas, an outbreak is the occurrence of disease cases in excess of what’s normally expected and an epidemic is more than a normal number cases of an illness, specific health-related behavior or other health-related events in a community or region, according to the World Health Organization.
The last pandemic reported in the world was the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, which killed hundreds of thousands globally.