WHO declares coronavirus outbreak a pandemic

The World Health Organisation has labelled the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic

The WHO has declared the coronavirus a global pandemic
The WHO has declared the coronavirus a global pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation as global cases top 120,000.

WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold over the past two weeks.

He said he was "deeply concerned" by "alarming levels of inaction" over the virus. He was addressing a press conference in Geneva.

A pandemic is a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

Tedros called on governments to change the course of the outbreak by taking "urgent and aggressive action".

"Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled," he said. 

"The challenge for many countries who are now dealing with large clusters or community transmission is not whether they can do the same - it's whether they will."

Governments had to "strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimising disruption and respecting human life".

"We're in this together to do the right things with calm and protect the citizens of the world. It's doable," he said.

Tedros said 81 countries had so far not reported any cases of Covid-19, while 57 countries had 10 cases or less. He added that 90% of global cases were in four countries.

The development comes on the same day that Malta reported its sixth case of coronavirus in a Maltese man who holidayed in north Italy. All cases so far have been imported from Italy and no local transmissions have taken place.

Earlier on Wednesday, the government announced measures to curb air and sea travel with Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland. Mandatory quarantine for people arriving from these countries tonight, and anybody who has been in Italy over the past 14 days, has been imposed. Quarantine will be mandatory for anybody who is indicated by the health authorities as requiring quarantine.

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