Corona, a global pandemic: A big reason to worry

Corona, a global pandemic: A big reason to worry

It is official now. COVID-19 is a global pandemic. WHO Director Dr Tedros General Adhanom Ghebreyesus told media, 'In the days and weeks ahead,...

It is official now. COVID-19 is a global pandemic. WHO Director Dr Tedros General Adhanom Ghebreyesus told media, "In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher." The new coronavirus, which was unknown to the World Health officials just three months ago, has rapidly spread to more than 121,000 people from Asia, to Europe, the Middle East and now parts of the United States.

In the past two weeks, the number of cases outside China has increased thirteen-fold and the number of affected countries has tripled. However, what is more alarming is the inaction of some leaders in containing it. As for the WHO, it has rung the alarm bell loud and clear. Cases in China and South Korea have significantly declined, he said, adding that 81 countries don't have any confirmed cases and 57 countries have 10 cases or less. We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough, all countries can still change the course of this pandemic. Close the borders, cancel the visas, suspend tourism, go for isolations, home quarantines... do what you may, COVID-19 is the only true global entity. It does not respect one's borders or boundaries and does not care about the laws and enforcements.

The virus is present in 114 countries. Now that it is a pandemic, it has major political and economic ramifications according to health experts and can further rattle already fragile world markets and lead to more stringent travel and trade restrictions. The last time the WHO declared a pandemic was during the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak in 2009, which infected nearly a quarter of the world's population.

However, that decision was criticised for creating unnecessary panic. SARS was not considered a pandemic, despite affecting people in 26 countries, and neither was MERS. The number of cases in Europe continues to rise, with more than 10,000 cases and more than 600 deaths in Italy. Germany's Merkel said 60-70% of country's population could become infected. UK chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled £30bn package to support the economy. A UK Health Minister, Nadine Dorries, is among 456 cases in Britain. As spread in China slows, Beijing, from where the virus began its journey, will now quarantine all international arrivals.

There are now more than 1,000 confirmed cases in the US, where the slow rollout of testing and limited testing capacity has crippled response to the disease. Washington State will prohibit gatherings of more than 250 people in the Seattle area, one of the most drastic moves yet to contain the spread of the coronavirus at the site of its worst outbreak.

The number of total infections in Iran rose to 9,000 with 354 deaths, by far the largest total in the Middle East. The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Qatar jumped from 24 to 262 in one day. The number of cases and deaths changes by the hour, topping 121,564 with at least 4,373 deaths across the world as of March 11. Want some solace from it all? Well, here it is: it is leaving children untouched just as other viruses did in the past.

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