The spread of the coronavirus now qualifies as a “global pandemic” according to World Health Organization.
The W.H.O. had avoided using the term to describe COVID-19, for fear of giving the impression that it was unstoppable.
“’Pandemic’ is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief of the W.H.O., said at a news conference in Geneva.
There is evidence of the coronavirus on six continents now. COVID-19 has infected more than 120,000 people and killed more than 4,300.
According to the W.H.O., an “epidemic” is defined as a regional outbreak of an illness that spreads unexpectedly. In 2010, it defined a “pandemic” as “the worldwide spread of a new disease” that affects large numbers of people. The C.D.C. says it is “an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.”