- The WHO said it was ‘deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity’ of the coronavirus
- A pandemic is the uncontrolled spread of a new disease – more than 100 countries have recorded cases
- Europe is now the centre of the crisis, with growing outbreaks in Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the UK
- At least 112,000 patients have been infected and 4,000 have died since the outbreak began last December
- The virus has been spreading between humans in four continents since February 28, the WHO has admitted
The World Health Organization has today finally declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic after the number of patients struck down by the life-threatening infection across the world surpassed 112,000 and the death toll neared 4,500.
The boss of the UN agency said it was ‘deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity’, with cases of the deadly illness outside of China having risen 13-fold in the space of a fortnight because of escalating crises in Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany and France.
And Dr Tedros Adhanom also warned inaction by governments across the planet has fuelled the crisis, saying the WHO has repeatedly told countries to take urgent and aggressive action’. In a desperate call to the world, he said: ‘We’re in this together, to do the right things with calm and protect the citizens of the world. It’s doable.’
The last pandemic – defined as the uncontrolled worldwide spread of a new disease – to be officially declared was the swine flu outbreak in 2009, which scientists estimate killed hundreds of thousands of people and spread to almost every corner of the world.
More than 112,000 people globally have now been infected with the coronavirus, which can cause pneumonia but causes mild flu-like symptoms for 98 per cent of patients. Cases have slowed dramatically in China, where the bug first emerged at the end of December.
Europe is now the centre of the crisis, with the number of cases soaring every day in Italy – where officials have taken the unprecedented decision to put all 60million residents into lockdown. Outbreaks are also worsening in Spain, France, Germany and the UK.
Leading experts, including Germany’s health minister, have called the crisis a pandemic for weeks – and the WHO itself has admitted the killer virus has been spreading between humans in four continents (Europe, Asia, North America and Oceania) since February 28.