GENEVA: The World Health Organization called the new coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday, issuing a grim warning that the global spread and severity of the illness was due to “alarming levels of inaction.”

The call came as Europe faced a mounting number of cases – including a slew of new countries clocking first deaths – prompting governments to roll out increasingly tough measures to slow the rapid spread of the virus.

The number of cases across the globe has risen to more than 124,000 with 4,500 deaths, including a jump in fatalities particularly in Iran and Italy, according to an AFP tally.

The majority of cases have been in China where the outbreak first emerged in December, but as the number of new infections has steadied in the country, hotspots have emerged elsewhere – namely Italy, Iran and Spain.

Covid-19 Fund launched to help quarantined patients

PRIME Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said RM1 million has been channelled into the fund to help Covid-19 patients and those under 14-day quarantine but not holding any jobs.

“We don’t want their lives to be affected. So, this is one type of humanitarian aid we are giving.

“If we can raise funds from the people, whatever we collect will be given to those eligible for the aid,” he told a press conference after chairing the first Cabinet meeting of the PN government at Perdana Putra.”

The fund, which is managed by the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), covers those placed under 14-day home surveillance as well as Covid-19 patients being treated at hospitals.