A nurse wears a protective mask during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the new coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday.
  • The last time the WHO declared a pandemic was in 2009 when H1N1 flu swept the globe.
  • Here are all the pandemics have come before this one.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za. 

Ten weeks after the first reported case of the new coronavirus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic. The last time it used the designation was in 2009, when H1N1 flu spread to nearly every corner of the globe.

In 2010, the organisation defined a pandemic as "the worldwide spread of a new disease." The determination is based on the geographic spread of a disease, the severity of illnesses it causes, and its effects on society.

"WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock, and we're deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction," the organisation's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters on Wednesday.

"Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly," Tedros added. "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."

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