The World Health Organization has officially declared the novel coronavirus COVID-19 a pandemic. The declaration came on Wednesday, March 11, as the spread of the virus continues at a rapid rate.
“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, via CNN.com.
According to the report, in order for the World Health Organization to declare an outbreak a pandemic, the virus must meet three general criteria: a virus that can cause illness or death; sustained person-to-person transmission of that virus; and evidence of spread throughout the world.
Coronavirus cases across the world have topped 115,000 with more than 4,300 deaths. The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 121 countries and territories around the world, along with multiple cruise ships.
In the United States, coronavirus cases have topped 1,000 across 34 states with at least 32 deaths — most of the deaths in the state of Washington.
The coronavirus mainly comes from animals and a majority of those who were infected early either worked at or frequently visited the Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, according to The Guardian. The virus is similar to Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers).
The Wuhan coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission.” That means an infected person can pass the virus by sneezing or coughing on another person as well as by direct contact.
While a majority of the cases have been detected in China, it has now reached many countries around the world including the United States. It has also been confirmed in Italy, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and many other eastern countries.