Thirteen months ago, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially announced that COVID-19 could be classified as a pandemic.
“The 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,” the organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom said at the time. “We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”
Back then, the WHO reported 118,000 cases across 114 countries, urging policy makers to take aggressive action in order to change the course of the pandemic. “This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector,” Tedros Adhanom warned back then, in a statement that sounds ominous from today’s perspective.
Twelve months later, there have been more than 134 million cases of COVID-19 around the world, with 2.9 million people dying from the disease and millions more suffering from its long-term effects. And while falling case numbers and the acceleration of the vaccine rollout have sparked optimism in some parts of the world, health experts are warning not to get ahead of ourselves as the virus remains an imminent threat for the time being, especially with more infectious variants taking hold across the globe.
According to the World Health Organization, the seven-day average of daily new cases climbed to 593,787 on Thursday, the highest it’s been since January. The current situation seems especially daunting as an understandably tired public is now faced with strict restrictions once again, just when light at the end of tunnel had appeared to be in sight.
This chart shows the seven-day moving average of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, by WHO region.
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