The P word

It’s on.

The COVID-19 viral disease that has swept into at least 114 countries and killed more than 4,000 people is now officially a pandemic, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday.

“This is the first pandemic caused by coronavirus,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

As he announced the ratcheting up of a health emergency to its highest level, Tedros also said there is hope that COVID-19 can still be curtailed. And he urged countries to act now to stop the disease.

“WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases,” Tedros said. “And we have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”

Eight countries — including the U.S. — are now each reporting more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19, caused by the virus that has infected roughly 120,000 people worldwide.

Bumpy ride ahead.

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