The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic that has rapidly spread to more than 121,000 people from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.
“In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China has increased thirteenfold and the number of affected countries has tripled,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday. “In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher.”
Tedros said several countries have demonstrated the ability to suppress and control the outbreak, but he scolded other world leaders for failing to act quickly enough or drastically enough to contain the spread.
“We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he said, just before declaring the pandemic. “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”
Cases in China and South Korea have significantly declined, he said, adding that 81 countries don’t have any confirmed cases and 57 countries have 10 or fewer cases.
“We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough: All countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” he said. “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.”
The number of cases and deaths changes by the hour, topping 121,564 with at least 4,373 deaths across the world as of Wednesday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, also said that: “The fact is right now in countries, we have front-line health workers who need our help. We have hospitals who need our support. We have people who need our care and we need to focus on getting our front-line health workers the equipment, supplies and the training they need to do a good job.”
“All countries need to reveal their strategies right now,” he added.