The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday declared the novel coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic.

The outbreak is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.

“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do,” he added.

The diseease has infected more than 115,800 people and killed over 4,200 worldwide, according to CNN’s tally.

The specific criteria for a pandemic are not universally defined, but there are three general criteria: a virus that can cause illness or death; sustained person-to-person transmission of that virus; and evidence of spread throughout the world.

According to WHO, a pandemic disease is an epidemic that has spread over a large area, that is, it is “prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world”. Compared to a pandemic disease, an epidemic disease is one affecting many persons at the same time, and spreading from person to person in a locality where the disease is not permanently prevalent. The World Health Organization (WHO) further specifies epidemic as occurring at the level of a region or community.

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