WHO declares coronavirus a pandemic

Coronavirus officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Coronavirus has officially been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the past two weeks the number of cases outside of China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled.

Dr Tedros said in the days and weeks ahead, WHO expects to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.

“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” Dr Tedros said.

“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

“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 virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.

“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.”

Australian cases rise above 100 
As of 11 March 2020, there are 112 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), including three deaths, in Australia.

There have been 60 reported cases in New South Wales, 15 in Queensland and Victoria, six in South Australia, four in Western Australia and two in Tasmania. Of the 112 Australian cases reported, 24 of these cases are reported to have recovered.

To date, New Zealand has five confirmed cases based on positive test results and two probable cases. Of the confirmed cases, one patient is in Auckland Hospital. Of the other confirmed cases, none requires hospital level care.

Across the world, there have been more than 118,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) and more than 4200 reported deaths.

Of the 118,000 cases reported globally in 114 countries, more than 90 per cent of cases are in just four countries, and two of those – China and the Republic of Korea – have significantly declining epidemics, according to WHO.

Of confirmed cases reported globally, the case fatality rate is approximately 3.6 per cent. The case fatality rate in countries and regions outside mainland China is approximately 3.1 per cent.

Dr Tedros said 81 countries have not reported any cases, and 57 countries have reported 10 cases or less.

“We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic.

“I remind all countries that we are calling on you to activate and scale up your emergency response mechanisms. Communicate with your people about the risks and how they can protect themselves – this is everybody’s business.

“Find, isolate, test and treat every case and trace every contact. Ready your hospitals. Protect and train your health workers.  And let’s all look out for each other, because we need each other.”

Earlier this week the Australian Government announced it had secured an additional 54 million face masks to help protect medical professionals working to stop the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It follows a warning from WHO that severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) – caused by rising demand, panic buying, hoarding and misuse – is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

On 30 January 2020, WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

The Global BioRisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA has published three tip sheets for cleaning and restoration professionals addressing COVID-19.

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