The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, saying cases outside China have risen 13-fold. The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci told lawmakers the pathogen is 10 times more deadly than the seasonal flu.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the global health agency is “deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity" of the outbreak. He also expressed concern about “the alarming levels of inaction."
“We have, therefore, made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic," he said at a briefing in Geneva.
“If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response, those with a handful of cases can prevent those cases becoming clusters and those clusters becoming community transmission," the WHO chief added.
WHO's Dr Mike Ryan said the situation in Iran was "very serious" and the agency would like to see more surveillance and more care for the sick.
Britain announced a $39 billion stimulus package, hours after the Bank of England cut interest rates. German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to do “whatever is necessary," and the European Central Bank’s president warned of a significant shock. U.K. cases jumped 22% to 456.
New York reported 20 more cases. The state will ask businesses to consider staggering shifts and allowing employees to work from home, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. Washington recommended that all large gatherings be canceled in the nationa’s capital.
The new coronavirus is the cause of the first pandemic since 2009, when a novel influenza strain swept around the world, infecting millions of people.