In the past two weeks the number of cases of COVID-19 outside of China has increased 13-fold to over 118,000, and the number of countries involved has tripled to 114. The WHO has now declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus.
Yesterday (11 March 2020), WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom said the global death toll now stands at 4,291, with “thousands fighting for their lives in hospitals”. He said the WHO is “deeply concerned, both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction”. The number of cases and the number of countries affected does not tell the full story he said. More than 90 per cent of cases are in just four countries. China and the Republic of Korea have seen significantly declining numbers.
It cannot be said loudly, clearly, or often enough, that all countries can still change the course of the pandemic, the Director-General said. They must detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilise people in the response.
Several countries have shown the virus can be controlled. “The challenge for many countries who are now dealing with large clusters or community transmission is not whether they can do the same, it’s whether they will , " he said.