The World Health Organization has officially declared the COVID-19-causing novel coronavirus a pandemic. A pandemic, as defined by the WHO, is a disease outbreak that is global, though the exact distinction between a pandemic and an epidemic is often blurred. However, for the WHO’s purposes, “pandemic” is the highest level of disease outbreak.
During a briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, “This is the first pandemic caused by coronavirus.”
Coronavirus, in a medical sense, refers to a virus with a structure that has a crown-like structure, hence the name. Other coronaviruses can cause diseases like SARS and MERS, and they cause illnesses that aren’t easily combated by something as simple as flu symptom relief.
WHO Announces Pandemic Status of COVID-19
“WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases,” Tedros said. “And we have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”
The director general also expressed hope, despite the escalation to full-blown pandemic. He is still optimistic that efforts will be made to curtail the virus’ spread.
Eight different countries are reporting over 1,000 confirmed cases of the illness. This includes the United States.
Tedros stated, “In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled. In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.”
Doctors and other health officials worry about the spread of the disease. They also worry about world leaders’ lack of action.
COVID-19 Disrupts Daily Life
In the US, schools are cancelling courses and teaching curriculums online. Employees who are able to do so are working from home. The people behind big events are delaying and cancelling concerts, festivals, sporting events and other large gatherings. Coachella and Stagecoach, for instance, have been postponed until further notice.
Likewise, the biggest trade show in the video game world, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, has been cancelled outright for 2020. This news is disappointing for fans. However, the ESO, the lobbying group that puts the trade show on, is simply looking out for everyone’s health.
It seems likely that such disruptions will continue to be the norm throughout the summer as countries struggle to contain COVID-19.