The World Health Organization has declared the worldwide outbreak of the new coronavirus a pandemic.
Speaking in Geneva on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the spread of COVID-19 had reached the level of a pandemic, noting there are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 deaths.
He said that while the declaration “doesn’t change what countries should do” to aggressively contain the virus, the U.N. health agency is “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity.”
Tedros said: “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.
The U.S. State Department says foreign ministers from leading industrial nations who had planned to meet in Pittsburgh this month will instead hold a video teleconference because of coronavirus concerns.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on Wednesday that the change in the Group of Seven meeting was made “out of an abundance of caution.”
The G-7 consists of the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan. The meeting was scheduled for March 24-25.
The worldwide epidemic also led more universities to move their classes online, the pope’s weekly catechism lesson to be live-streamed and governments to ban public gatherings.