More than two months after the start of the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus in China, the World Health Organization on Wednesday formally declared the outbreak a global pandemic.
“We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said Wednesday.
The ominous declaration follows the WHO noting on Monday that it was "deeply concerned" by the "spread and severity" of the coronavirus, and by "alarming levels of inaction" among governments outside of the disease's epicenter, China.
The WHO generally defines a pandemic as a disease that has become widespread around the world.
China reported a rise in coronavirus infections imported from abroad as the number of cases in the U.S. topped 1,000, highlighting the challenges authorities face containing an epidemic rapidly spreading around the world.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said up to 70% of the population could get infected with the new coronavirus, and that her government’s strategy was to slow down the contagion so as to avoid health-care providers becoming overwhelmed.
“The virus has arrived in Europe, it is here and we must all understand that,” Merkel said. “As long as there is no immunity in the population, no vaccines and no therapy, then a high percentage of the population - experts say 60% to 70%- will become infected.”
President Donald Trump summoned the country's top bankers to the Washington on Wednesday regarding the coronavirus outbreak, as leaders both inside and outside the United States continue to try to assess the economic damage wrought by the virus - and the economic and financial market fallout that is still to come.
Meanwhile, stocks swooned again on Wednesday, officially entering bear market territory and ending the Dow Jones Industrial Average's 11-year-strong bull market run as investors continued to try to assess the broader impact of the virus's global march.