It’s a pandemic, says WHO; India COVID-19 cases 60 now
BENGALURU/NEW DELHI : The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of Covid-19 a pandemic on Wednesday, on a day the virus was suspected to have claimed its first life in India—that of a 76-year-old man in Kalaburagi, Karnataka, who died late on Tuesday with symptoms like breathlessness, cold and cough.

A pandemic is an occurrence of a disease that affects many people over a very wide area.

“We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting there are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 deaths.

“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," he told a news conference.

“All countries can still change the course of this pandemic...if countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response," he added.

The global agency’s stark warning came hours after the Karnataka government announced India’s first suspected death from the pandemic. However, the cause of death is yet to be confirmed by the National Institute of Virology, whose report is expected on Thursday. The Union health ministry gave no confirmation.

The central government on Wednesday suspended visas of all foreign nationals with effect from 13 March till 15 April as 10 new cases of Covid-19 infection were reported, taking the nationwide toll to 60. The bulk of the patients reported on Wednesday came from Kerala, where eight new cases took the state’s total to 17. They include three who have made a recovery.

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