WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. WHO has therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. 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.
Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do. WHO have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. And WHO have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time. WHO has been in full response mode since they were notified of the first cases, and have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action.
Of the 118,000 cases reported globally in 114 countries, more than 90 percent of cases are in just four countries, and two of those – China and the Republic of Korea - have significantly declining epidemics. 81 countries have not reported any cases, and 57 countries have reported 10 cases or less. All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace, and mobilize their people in the response, those with a handful of cases can prevent those cases becoming clusters, and those clusters becoming community transmission. Even those countries with community transmission or large clusters can turn the tide on this virus.
Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled. The challenge for many countries who are now dealing with large clusters or community transmission is not whether they can& do the same – it’s whether they will. Some countries are struggling with a lack of capacity. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resources. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resolve.