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Regulatory Focus™ > News Articles > 2020 > 3 > Coronavirus: WHO Declares Pandemic, EMA Meetings go Virtual

Coronavirus: WHO Declares Pandemic, EMA Meetings go Virtual

Posted 11 March 2020 | By Michael Mezher 

Coronavirus: WHO Declares Pandemic, EMA Meetings go Virtual

Credit: NIAID-Rocky Mountain Laboratories

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday declared the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to be a global pandemic, marking the first time since the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak the agency has used the designation.
 
"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,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
 
Ghebreyesus said that the number of COVID-19 cases outside China have increase thirteenfold in the past two weeks but stressed that countries “can still change the course of this pandemic,” and noted that both China and South Korea appear to have controlled the spread of the virus within their borders.
 
According to WHO, there are now more than 118,000 reported cases of the disease in 114 countries and nearly 4,300 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
 
Hours before the announcement, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it will be holding all its committee and working party meetings virtually through April in response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. EMA also said it will postpone or virtually host all meetings and events with stakeholders originally scheduled to take place in March and April.
 
Some upcoming meetings, including the third international awareness session on science and regulation for animal health and welfare, public health and the environment and the multi-stakeholder workshop to support implementation of the Medical Devices Regulation on drug-device combinations have already been postponed.
 
There are four countries in Europe, Italy, France, Germany and Spain, reporting more than 1,000 cases of the disease. The Netherlands, where EMA is headquartered, has reported more than 500 cases and five deaths from the disease.
 
WHO, EMA

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