WHO Officially Declared Coronavirus Outbreak a Pandemic

“Covid-19 can be characterized as a pandemic,” Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General at the World Health Organization announced at a press conference Wednesday. There are now more than 126,000 cases in 114 countries, with 4,630 deaths according to statistics from researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” Tedros said. “We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction.”

“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. It doesn’t change what the WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what the countries should do.” He encouraged countries to focus on containment, find and test every case, prepare hospitals, train health workers and co-operate.

The WHO added that Iran and Italy are the new hotspots of the coronavirus that started in China.

“They’re suffering but I guarantee you other countries will be in that situation soon,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergency chief. He noted very strong efforts have to be made to suppress infection.

The outbreak continued to upend daily life in places such as Italy, when its government announced a historic ordering of a nationwide lockdown on Tuesday, limiting movements of 60 million people.

What’s happening in Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday a $1-billion fund to deal with COVID-19 and the economic impact from the virus, including more money for medical supplies, equipment and research.

Ottawa is also providing support to workers who have been put under quarantined or told to self-isolate by waiving the one-week waiting period for employment insurance.

“No one should have to worry about their job if they have to be quarantined,” he said and no employer should feel they have to lay off a worker because of the virus.

Though the Public Agency of Canada says that the risk to the general public in Canada remains low, but warns this could change rapidly.

As of Thursday morning, Canada had 118 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19.

  • 46 in British Columbia, including two health-care workers
  • 42 cases in Ontario
  • 19 cases in Alberta
  • 9 cases in Quebec
  • 1 presumptive case in New Brunswick
  • 1 at CFB Trenton, in Ontario, who was on the Grand Princess Cruise Ship

The first death has been reported in British Columbia, a man in his 80s who lived at a long-term care facility.

In Ontario, in the city of Sudbury, a man tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a mining conference in Toronto. This is the city’s first case. Laurentian University is moving all its classes online. According to CTV News, the Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, Ontario is planning to set up a special COVID-19 clinic to ease busy emergency rooms.

The city of Hamilton’s first case of COVD-19 is a cancer doctor at Juravinski who recently returned from Hawaii.

The city of Ottawa also has its first reported case, a man in his 40s with recent travel history to Austria. 

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