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Mar 11 2022 - 09:00 AM
Today In History: WHO Declares COVID-19 a Pandemic

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On March 11th, 2020 the World Health Organization declared a severe respiratory illness, known as COVID-19, which was caused by a novel coronavirus, to be a pandemic. The virus first appeared in Wuhan, China in December 2019 with symptoms that included fever, cough, headache, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of taste and smell. Transmitted by air contaminated by droplets from breathing, the highly contagious disease led to critical symptoms for many, especially those with pre-existing health conditions and the elderly. Complications included pneumonia, viral sepsis, kidney failure, acute respiratory distress, pulmonary fibrosis, and long COVID. With an estimated 500 million cases to date worldwide, over 6 million people have died -- in the United States alone, roughly 965,000 persons.


WHO worked to report and brief governmental agencies, public health authorities, health care workers, and communities on COVID 19, offering technical guidance and practical advice on how to deal with global pandemic. Despite political tensions and resistance, with the former President Donald Trump accusing WHO of conspiring with China to conceal the danger of the disease and threats to withdraw American representation in the agency, efforts continued, among them: closure of in-person schooling and businesses; transition to remote education, employment, and services, including tele-health; modified operations; restrictions on travel; social distancing; mask mandates; required testing; and eventually vaccination.


Science raced against time to develop vaccines, with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and other pharmaceutical companies competing to introduce approved safe and simple ways to protect humans from the harmful disease. Two years on from the declaration of the pandemic, advice continues to change as officials work to identify and control variants, including Omicron, which was reported by South Africa in November 2021.


The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.













 

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Tips:







Images:


  • SARS-CoV-2, Globe, Created by Philippa Steinberg, Courtesy of Innovative Genomics Institute


  • Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries



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