World Health Organization declares coronavirus a pandemic

Author: CBS News
Published: Updated:
Headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. (Credit: AP)
Headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. (Credit: AP)

The World Health Organization declared Wednesday that the coronavirus outbreak spreading around the globe can now be characterized as a pandemic.

The declaration came as the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States continued to skyrocket. Delays at the federal level have left many state and local health authorities racing to catch up, with backlogs of people waiting to be tested for the COVID-19 disease.

“I can say we will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday morning.

New York state has taken dramatic action to contain one of the largest known virus clusters in the country, setting up a “containment area” of about three square miles around the city of New Rochelle, which is less than 10 miles from the heart of Manhattan. There are 108 confirmed cases in Westchester County, New York, alone.

Meanwhile, in origin country China, there is mounting evidence that strict control measures pay off. Premier Xi Jinping has declared the disease “basically curbed,” and with only about 10 new domestic infections reported in China on Wednesday, other countries were adopting similar tactics.

Italy has the biggest coronavirus outbreak outside China, with more than 600 dead and 10,000 COVID-19 infections. The whole nation is under travel restrictions, with stricter controls in hard-hit northern regions.

There have now been than 120,000 cases worldwide, and more than 4,300 people have died. The vast majority of cases are mild, and almost half of those infected have already recovered.

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