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世卫组织宣布新冠肺炎为全球性流行病 WHO declares coronavirus pandemic

中国日报网 2020-03-12 14:52




File picture shows World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks at a daily briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 9, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

The world is now in the grip of a coronavirus pandemic, the director general of the World Health Organization has said, as he expressed deep concern about “alarming levels of inaction” in the fight against the spread of the disease.


In the past two weeks, the number of cases outside China has increased 13-fold, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and the number of affected countries has tripled. There are 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 people have lost their lives.


“Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospital,” Tedros said at a briefing in Geneva. “In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the many cases, the many deaths and the number of affected countries climb even higher.


"WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.


We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized 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.


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."


As the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) explains on its website, “an epidemic occurs when an infectious disease spreads rapidly to many people.” Usually, what precedes an epidemic is an outbreak, or “a sudden rise in the number of cases of a disease.” An outbreak can affect a single community or several countries, but it’s on a much smaller scale than an epidemic.


If an epidemic can’t be contained and keeps expanding its reach, public health officials might start calling it a pandemic, which means it’s affected enough people in different areas of the world to be considered a global outbreak. In short, a pandemic is a worldwide epidemic. It infects more people, causes more deaths, and can also have widespread social and economic repercussions.


This pandemic was unlike any others in that it could be controlled, he said. The experience in China and South Korea, where the numbers of cases are falling, showed it was possible to turn things around. But many countries were not doing what was necessary.


“We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” he said.


Ghebreyesus was keen to stress that it was not too late to control the outbreak. The majority of cases – 90% of the 118,000 – are in just four countries: Italy, Iran, South Korea and China. “All countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” he said. He called on all countries to detect, test, treat, isolate, track contacts and mobilise their people in response to the pandemic.


Workers load disaster-relief materials bound for Italy at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport on March 10, 2020. [Photo by Wang Jianlong/for chinadaily.com.cn]

“Some countries are struggling with a lack of capacity, some countries are struggling with a lack of resources, some countries are struggling with a lack of resolve,” he said.


Asked which countries were failing to do enough, he and WHO’s director of emergencies, Dr Michael Ryan, refused to be specific. “You know who you are,” said Ryan. The WHO would not criticise its member states in public. But, he said, it was not enough to limit testing to small numbers of people who fitted risk criteria that might be out of date – people over a certain age with a history of travel to China, for instance.


Some countries had not established sufficient capacity for isolating people, he said. Other countries were too willing to give up on contact tracing too soon, which could help slow the spread. Some countries were not communicating well with their people, giving them the information they need to keep themselves and others safe.


The WHO warning came as the death toll from the virus in Italy rose by 31% in 24 hours to 827, and the government there began considering imposing even tighter restrictions on daily life and announced billions of euros in financial relief to cushion against the economic shock.


cushion [ˈkʊʃn]: vt.缓和…的冲击


In Iran, by far the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, the senior vice-president and two other cabinet ministers were reported to have been diagnosed with Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.





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