The World Health Organization (WHO) has characterised the novel coronavirus covid19 as a pandemic. There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 people have died.
In a press conference shown ‘live’ on social media, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said while it is now labelled a pandemic, the response remains the same. “We are in this together to protect the citizens of the world. It is doable.”
Ghebreyesus said the virus was the first pandemic caused by coronavirus. “We have never seen a pandemic that can be controlled. Calling it a pandemic does not change how countries must respond.”
He said just looking at the number of cases and the number of countries affected does not tell the full story as more than 90 per cent of cases are in four countries. He added that two of those countries, China and Korea have significantly declining cases.
“We cannot say this loudly or clearly or often enough. All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilise people in response, those with a handful of cases can prevent cases being clusters and prevent clusters being community transmissions.”
He said several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled. “All countries must strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimising economic and social disruption and respecting human rights. In the Caribbean four countries have confirmed positive cases of the virus so far, with Jamaica being the latest to report one confirmed case on Tuesday.