Here in the United States, schools are closing, music festivals are being postponed, and sporting events are preparing for empty stadiums, all on account of a terrifying viral outbreak emanating from the Far East.
COVID-19, a novel strain of the coronavirus, has been spreading ever further outward from Wuhan, China, where medical professionals believe that it first was transferred from animals to humans at a wildlife market.
The illness is described as akin to a viral pneumonia that preys most effectively on at-risk populations such as the elderly and the immunocompromised. COVID-19’s fourteen day incubation period has made containing the illness difficult, if not nearly impossible, and this has the World Health Organization ramping up their classification of the virus.
The COVID-19 viral disease that has swept into at least 114 countries and killed more than 4,000 people is now officially a pandemic, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday.
“This is the first pandemic caused by coronavirus,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared at a briefing in Geneva.
Even as he raised the health emergency to its highest level, Tedros said hope remains that COVID-19 can be curtailed. And he urged countries to take action now to stop the disease.
“WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases,” Tedros said. “And we have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”
The WHO reiterated, however, that nothing has changed in regard to the severity of the illness itself. Rather, the organization’s “pandemic” classification was influenced by the perceived inaction and unpreparedness of authorities to contain or curb the virus.
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