WHO confirms Covid-19 pandemic as Trump announces Euro flight ban
Author: Mark Gould
Just hours after the World Health Organisation (WHO) formally declared Covid-19 to be a global pandemic US President Donald Trump announced a ban on flights to the USA from 26 European countries.
Speaking at the Covid-19 media briefing, the WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction”.
Dr Ghebreyesus said that the WHO had declared pandemic status for Covid-19 against a backdrop of more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, 4,291 people fatalities and thousands more who are fighting for their lives in hospitals.
“We have therefore made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic. 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.
Dr Ghebreyesus said that describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus.
“It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.
"We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time."
There are 1,135 confirmed cases of the virus across the USA, with 38 deaths so far. In a tweet in the early hours of this morning President Trump announced sweeping travel restrictions on 26 European countries in a bid to combat the spread of the virus.
The measures, which come into effect tomorrow, apply to travellers from countries which are members of the Schengen border-free travel area. The UK, Ireland and other non-Schengen countries are unaffected. Exemptions are also being made for US citizens.
In a later address to the nation President Trump said the "strong but necessary" actions would help protect Americans.