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Last Updated : Mar 13, 2020 09:37 AM IST | Source:

Coronavirus declared pandemic: Meaning, definition, history and more

The WHO added that this is a pandemic that can be controlled, and the first one caused by a coronavirus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), on March 11, declared the coronavirus outbreak a ‘pandemic’, adding that it is not a term to be used ‘lightly or carelessly’.

A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease, according to the WHO.


"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," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO said in a media briefing.

The global death toll due to coronavirus is currently 4,292, with 118,326 confirmed cases, according to WHO's latest situation report.

Why has the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic?

The WHO has taken stock of the number of cases across the world and assessed the rate at which cases of COVID-19 cases are spreading.

"WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction," the WHO Director-General said.

The WHO added that this is a pandemic that can be controlled and the first one caused by a coronavirus.

The organisation usually does not declare public health situations that do not involve flu as pandemics.

Does this change the WHO's response to the virus outbreak?

No, the WHO has stated that characterising the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic does not change their response, neither does it change what countries should do to contain the spread of the virus.

It emphasised that measures taken by countries "can still change the course of this pandemic".

When was the last time a pandemic was declared?

The last official pandemic was in 2009, caused by an outbreak of the H1NI virus, commonly called "swine flu". In recent history, HIV/AIDS Pandemic at its peak killed 36 million during 2005-2012. Flu Pandemic killed a million in 1968 and Asian Flu killed two million during 1956-1958.

"Pandemics can have unusual epidemiological patterns and large outbreaks can occur in the summer months," the WHO said in a statement issued in 2010.

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First Published on Mar 12, 2020 10:04 am
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