The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday characterized the coronavirus (COVID-19) as a pandemic and underlined that it will touch every sector.
“This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector – so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight,” WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted.
When announcing the pandemic, Dr Ghebreyesus noted that there are now more than 118,000 COVID-19 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives and thousands more are in hospitals.
“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,” Dr Ghebreyesus said.
“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,” he added.
According to WHO, the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries are expected to climb even higher “in the days and weeks ahead”.
"Let me summarize it in 4⃣ key areas.
1⃣ Prepare and be ready.
2⃣ Detect, protect and treat.
3⃣ Reduce transmission.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 11, 2020
However, Dr Ghebreyesus underlined that 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.
Eighty-one 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,” he stressed.
Greece on Monday announced an emergency plan to address the economic impact of the coronavirus including boosting health ministry funds and suspension of VAT payments. Other measures include the cancellation of large events and public gatherings. On Tuesday, the government announced that all schools in the country would remain closed for 14 days.
On Wednesday evening, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made a nationally televised address and announced additional measures, including the hiring of 1,500 nursing staff for public hospitals.
The Greek PM advised precautions to the public.
The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Greece has reached 99.