World Health Organization calls COVID-19 a pandemic
The World Health Organization has called COVID-19 for the first time a pandemic.
The WHO conducted the assessment during a briefing on Wednesday, after the number of countries reporting cases tripled in the past two weeks.
"Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if used incorrectly, can cause unreasonable fear or unwarranted acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death." said Dr. Tedros, WHO Director-General. Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
He said the WHO is "deeply concerned about both the alarming levels of spread and severity, and the alarming levels of inaction."
There are now more than 118,000 cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have died worldwide. There are thousands more in hospitals.
"We have never before seen a pandemic caused by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time," said Ghebreyesus. He called on countries to take aggressive measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus by detecting, testing, treating, isolating, and locating cases.
It also hinted that some countries with those capabilities are not doing enough.
"The challenge for many countries now facing large COVID-19 or community broadcast groups is not whether they can do the same, but whether they will," said Ghebreyesus.
There are now 23 cases of COVID-19 in the state of Florida, which includes 2 non-residents. The Florida Department of Health reported eight new cases Tuesday, including in Pasco and Pinellas counties.
Two Pinellas men, a 67-year-old man and a 64-year-old man, will remain isolated until authorized by public health officials. Both are travel related cases.
In Pasco, a 46-year-old man tested positive and is also a case related to travel.
New policies are being introduced due to all concerns. Starting Wednesday, no visitor will be able to see certain patients at Veterans Affairs hospitals. The VA adopted a no-visit policy for its patients in nursing homes and with spinal cord injuries, who they said are the most vulnerable to the virus. You will also begin to actively evaluate your employees.
In addition, many school districts in the Tampa Bay and Central Florida areas, including Hillsborough and Orange counties, have canceled all out-of-state and air travel related trips. Other school trips will be approved on a case-by-case basis, until further notice.
"We definitely understand that students are disappointed and we all remember the trips we took that were really important to our education, but at the same time there is nothing more important to our families than the health and safety of our students," said Grayson Kamm, the Hillsborough County Schools spokesperson. "We have a recommendation like this from the state, the federal government, we really have to follow it."
Hillsborough County School District officials say that if a student is planning a school trip, parents should keep in touch with the child's school for additional information.
In a similar message to parents, the Orange County Public Schools said the district will work with parents and travel companies in "appropriate cancellation arrangements."
The NBA and Orlando Magic say they are taking additional precautions against the spread of the coronavirus. The Magic is stepping up cleaning in high traffic areas and increasing hand sanitizing stations throughout the Amway Center.
The team says it is creating a task force to handle any NBA directive that might come in.
In a joint statement Monday, the NBA and other major sports leagues say that from now on, fans will still be able to attend the games.
However, the locker rooms and clubhouses will be open to players and employees. Access to the media will be moved to designated areas.
In St. Petersburg, the annual Firestone Grand Prix will take place this weekend. On Wednesday, Mayor Rick Kriseman was due to give an update on the latest COVID-19 cases in the area and the event itself.
As preparedness and prevention measures advance, health leaders say taking control of the coronavirus will take time.