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WHO declares COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic

Last Updated Mar 11, 2020 at 11:49 am PDT

Summary

WHO has declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic

The WHO says it's been assessing the outbreak 'around the clock'

The organization adds describing the situation as a pandemic doesn't change its assessment of the virus' threat

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The World Health Organization has declared the global outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic.

Members of the WHO have been assessing the outbreak “around the clock” and are “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” according to an update provided Wednesday.

The head of the organization said describing the situation as a pandemic doesn’t change its assessment of the virus’ threat.

More than 118,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported worldwide, in 114 countries. The WHO notes more than 90 per cent of the cases are found in just four countries — China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran — and that China and South Korea “have significantly declining epidemics.”

“We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, said.

“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus, and we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time,” he said.

Ghebreyesus continued to stress countries have a role to play, and that they can still change the course of the pandemic.

Countries have taken extreme measures in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, like implementing travel restrictions and mass quarantines.

In Italy, restrictions have been placed impacting daily life for everyone living there. Its government also announced billions in financial aid to try and dampen economic shocks caused by COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Iran reported a jump in the number of people who have died because of the novel coronavirus, with 354 deaths.

In Canada, only one death linked to COVID-19 has been reported so far. A man in his 80s died who lived at a care home in North Vancouver, B.C. died on Sunday after contracting the virus.

On Wednesday, the federal government announced $1-billion in funding to respond to the outbreak and mitigate the risks to Canadians.

In an effort to deal with the situation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government has already taken a number of steps, including the appointment of a special committee to oversee the country’s response. He said Ottawa has also put in place screening measures at airports, increased testing at the national lab, invested in research, and “bolstered support for health services in Indigenous communities.”

The funding will go toward things like research, helping Canadian workers who are forced to isolate themselves due to the virus, and will overall help provinces, Canadians, and businesses harmed by the outbreak get by.

For all the latest on the COVID-19 situation, click here.