WHO Declares COVID-19 Outbreak a Pandemic

Gregory Twachtman

March 11, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's  Coronavirus Resource Center.

The World Health Organization has formally declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

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," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a March 11 press briefing. "We therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic."

He noted that this is the first time a coronavirus has been seen as a pandemic.

The Director-General cautioned that just looking at the number of countries affected, 114 countries, "does not tell the full story. ... We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: All countries can still change the course of this pandemic."

He reiterated the need for a whole-of-government and a whole-of-society approach to dealing with this, including taking precautions such as isolating, testing, and treating every case and tracing every contact, as well as readying hospitals and health care professionals.

"Let’s look out for each other, because we need each other," he said.

This story originally appeared on MDedge.com.

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