The now notorious COVID-19 (coronavirus) that began in China nearly three months ago, has now infected more than 1,000 people in the United States. The World Health Organization declared the virus a “pandemic” during a news conference in Geneva Wednesday.
What We Know:
- “This is the first pandemic caused by coronavirus,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared at a briefing in Geneva. It’s the first time the WHO has called an outbreak a pandemic since the H1N1 “swine flu” in 2009.
- According to NPR, Ghebreyesus has even elevated the health emergency to its highest level, in hopes that the virus can be curtailed, and urge countries to take action now to stop the disease.
- Nearly 120,000 people around the global have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, still mostly on the Chinese mainland, according to data provided by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
- These statistics are notably shrinking by the day as the epidemic is appearing to level out a bit in China while cases continue to rapidly spike everywhere else, specifically Europe, and areas in the Middle East.
- The virus has tightened its grip around Italy and Iran, which have the second and third highest number of cases just behind China, respectively. The U.S. however, now has the eighth highest case count in the world with a (growing) total of 1,037 as of Wednesday morning.
In a briefing on Feb. 26, WHO’s Ghebreyesus pushed back on the use of the word “pandemic” to describe the disease, stating that “using the word pandemic carelessly has no tangible benefit”. It could also signal that the virus couldn’t be controlled, which is not true, or at least, it wasn’t at the time.