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The WHO Declares Coronavirus a Pandemic

Tristan North - Mar 12 2020
Published in: Public Policy
On 11 March 2020, the WHO raised the status of the coronavirus to a pandemic, but didn’t change its advice as to what countries should do about COVID-19.

Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) changed the characterization of the coronavirus (COVID-19) to a pandemic. In making the announcement, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cited 118,000 cases of the virus in 114 countries with 4,291 deaths. He stated that the WHO expects all three of those numbers to increase over the coming days and weeks

The WHO declaration does not change the handling of the response to the coronavirus or put additional restrictions in place. Increasing its status, however, does send a signal to governments that the virus is a global issue and that they need to be more responsive and better contain its spread.

The WHO defines a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.” There is no formal threshold that triggers the characterization of a pandemic. The WHO officials instead come to the conclusion that the new disease has spread and poses a threat across multiple continents based on the culmination of several factors.

WHO maintains a map of the confirmed cases of the coronavirus by country

The WHO last declared a pandemic in 2009 with the global outbreak of the H1N1 virus. The organization did not characterize SARS or MERS as a pandemic.

How This Impacts Mobility

While the WHO declaration does not directly change the handling of the response to the spread of the coronavirus, governments and businesses are likely to increase restrictions on travel and local movement, which directly impacts the mobility of global and domestic workforces.

Worldwide ERC® is committed to helping you stay abreast of the Impact of Coronavirus on Mobility with a page featuring frequent updates. Participate in our online survey to find out what companies are doing in response to the outbreak.