The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, the global organization has announced.
The news was made at a press conference Wednesday (March 11) that included a panel of experts, including WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Citing that of the 118,000 cases of COVID-19 documented so far, 90 per cent of countries have reported them. Ghebreyesus said that it would "be a mistake to abandon the containment strategy."
In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled.
There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives.
"In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher," Ghebreyesus said.
"We believe that the best way forward is the blended comprehensive approach which puts containment as a major pillar," Ghebreyesus. said. "Many countries have already shown that when you have cases, they can still be contained, however big the number of cases is. We’re convinced that although this is the first coronavirus to be labelled as a pandemic, we believe that it will be the first that’s able to be contained, and it can be controlled because we've seen progress in countries that have already shown this."
According to Ghebreyesus, WHO isn't suggesting a shift from containment to mitigation of the virus, but rather, a more "blended containment strategy."
In a statement posted to WHO's website, the organization says that of the 118,000 cases reported globally in 114 countries, more than 90 percent of cases are in just four countries, and two of those – China and the Republic of Korea - have significantly declining epidemics.
Eighty-one countries have not reported any cases, and 57 countries have reported 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," Ghebreyesus said said, noting that "we should double down and be more aggressive."
To watch the live debrief, click on the Tweet below.
This is a developing story.