WHO declares Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic

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The World Health Organization sees the outbreak of the new coronavirus as a pandemic, Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.
A woman walks past the deserted Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II amid the coronavirus outbreak, in Milan, Italy, March 11, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, citing the alarming levels of spread around the world.

"We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have, therefore, made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic," said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a news conference, adding that the organisation was not using the word lightly.

There are now over 120,000 cases in 114 countries.

In Singapore yesterday, 12 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed, including eight people who are believed to have caught the disease outside the Republic.

Of the four locally transmitted cases, one is linked to the private dinner at Safra Jurong; another, a staff nurse at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, is linked to an imported case from the Philippines; while contact tracing is ongoing for the other two.

The latest update brings the number of cases here to 178. Three more patients were discharged.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2020, with the headline WHO declares Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic. Subscribe