Coronavirus Is a ‘Controllable Pandemic,’ Says WHO Chief

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who heads the UN agency, said the WHO is “deeply concerned by the spread and severity”.

2 min read
A Borussia fan dressed as ghost stands in front of the stadium prior the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and 1 FC Cologne in Moenchengladbach, Germany, Wednesday, 11 March. It is the first Bundesliga match played behind closed doors without spectators due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The coronavirus outbreak "is a controllable pandemic" if countries step up measures to tackle it, head of the World Health Organization said on Thursday, 12 March.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had acknowledged on Wednesday that the global outbreak of the new coronavirus could now be considered a pandemic; a disease actively spreading globally.

But he told diplomats in Geneva that describing the outbreak as a pandemic should not mean that countries give up the fight to stop it from spreading further, PTI reported on Thursday.

"This is a controllable pandemic," he said, according to a statement of his remarks.

“All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilise their people in the response,” Tedros said.

Urges Countries to Test Evey Suspected Case

"We are deeply concerned that some countries are not approaching this threat with the level of political commitment needed to control it. The idea that countries should shift from containment to mitigation is wrong and dangerous," he stressed.

"To save lives we must reduce transmission," Tedros insisted. "That means finding and isolating as many cases as possible and quarantining their closest contacts," he said, urging states to test every suspected case of COVID-19 in a bid to slow transmission.

‘Word Cannot Be Taken Lightly’

A disease or an outbreak is considered a pandemic when it occurs over a massive geographical area. Originating gin China's Wuhan, novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 has, thus far, infected more than 119,711 people globally.

Tedros added, “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. Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO's assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus.”

He has also urged the countries to take urgent and aggressive action, stating, “we have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”

Tedors however, added that he expected the number of cases and deaths would grow in the coming days and weeks.

The majority of cases have been in China, where the outbreak emerged in December, but major hotspots have also emerged in South Korea, Iran and Italy. Meanwhile, India is also grappling with the outbreak, with more than 73 people having tested positive thus far.

(With inputs from AFP)

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