WHO Declares COVID-19 a Global Pandemic, More Lockdowns Announced
The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said via Twitter that COVID-19 was the first type of coronavirus to cause a pandemic. He said describing the ongoing situation as one did not change the organization’s assessment of the threat, or what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do either.
“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly," Tedros said. “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.”
The assessment comes as Italy is weighing even tighter restrictions on daily life and has announced billions in financial relief to cushion economic shocks from the coronavirus.
Premier Giuseppe Conte says he will consider requests to toughen an already extraordinary lockdown.
The hardest-hit region of Lombardy is pushing for a shutdown of nonessential businesses and public transportation on top of travel and social restrictions.
The death toll in Italy has risen to 631.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has told a U.S. House committee that the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. is going to get worse.
CDC Director Robert Redfield reports that U.S. virus deaths now up to 31 and confirmed cases are over 1,000.
Fauci told the House Oversight and Reform Committee in Washington on Wednesday that “I can say we will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now.”
He says how much worse it gets depends on two things: the ability of U.S. authorities to curtail the influx of travelers who may be bringing the disease into the country and the ability of states and communities to contain local outbreaks in this country.
Asked if the worst is yet to come, Fauci said: “Yes, it is.”
U.S. lawmakers and health officials have set up containment zones and quarantine areas and sought to limit contact with those who might be infected.
Governors and other leaders are scrambling to slow the spread of the virus, banning large gatherings, enforcing quarantines and calling National Guard troops in to help.
U.S. health officials are now telling doctors and nurses that surgical masks are OK to wear when treating patients who may be sick from the new coronavirus — a decision made in reaction to shortages of more protective respirator masks. The CDC decision was prompted by reports of dwindling supplies of respirators.
Vast areas of U.S. life are being impacted by the spreading coronavirus outbreak, from bans on large public gatherings to empty stadiums at sports games.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to announce a ban on large events — including sports — in virtually the entire Seattle metro area. The order expected on Wednesday would not prohibit the operation of workplaces and is not expected to include school closures.
Washington state has had the most coronavirus cases of any state, including at least 24 deaths, most in the Seattle metro area. There are more than 260 confirmed cases in the state, most in the three counties that would be affected by Inslee’s new order.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says schools and other gathering places will be shut down for two weeks in a containment zone in New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City. The area accounts for the majority of the state’s 173 coronavirus cases.