The COVID-19 viral disease that has swept into at least 114 countries and killed more than 4,000 people is now officially a pandemic, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday.
“This is the first pandemic caused by coronavirus,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing in Geneva.
It’s the first time the WHO has called an outbreak a pandemic since the H1N1 “swine flu” in 2009.
Even as he raised the health emergency to its highest level, Tedros said hope remains that COVID-19 can be curtailed. And he urged countries to take action now to stop the disease.
“WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases,” Tedros said. “And we have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”