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.