"We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear."
World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday, but said that doesn't change the assessment of threat or how the WHO will address it. He says the organization has been in full response mode since it learned of the first cases.
Tedros said: "Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death."
He said the "alarming levels of spread and severity," along with "alarming levels of inaction" prompted the declaration.
The director-general called this "the first pandemic that can be controlled" and said several countries have proven that. He said world leaders can "turn the tide" if their countries can prepare to deal with potential cases; detect and treat all cases; find ways to reduce transmission; and be innovative.
Coronavirus has now reached over 100 countries, infected more than 120,000 people and killed more than 4,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University. The WHO says it expects to see those numbers rise.