FACT CHECK: No, The WHO Did Not Officially Designate Coronavirus As A Plague

Jonathan Fonti | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows a news alert announcing the World Health Organization (WHO) officially designated the coronavirus as a plague.

Verdict: False

The WHO has declared the coronavirus a global health emergency, not a plague. The plague refers to diseases caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis.

Fact Check:

The tweet, which was screen grabbed and posted on Facebook, masquerades as a breaking news alert from a news outlet, saying, “BREAKING: World Health Organization officially declares the Coronavirus as a plague.” An estimated 340,000 people in China have been infected and 75,000 have died, it claims.

At first glance, the news alert appears authentic, as it mimics the breaking news format used by some outlets on Twitter. But a closer inspection of its claims reveal that it is not credible.

The Daily Caller didn’t find any media reports about the WHO designating the new coronavirus, which has killed some 170 people, as a plague. No press releases making such an announcement appear on the organization’s website. The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency Jan. 30. (RELATED: Did The WHO Make A Coronavirus Infographic Warning Against Unprotected Sex With Animals?)

According to the WHO, the term “plague” only refers to infectious diseases caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. It comes in two main forms, bubonic and pneumonic, with the most endemic countries being the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Peru.

There have been 7,736 confirmed cases and 12,167 suspected cases of coronavirus in China to date, according to the WHO’s Jan. 30 situation report. The novel virus, which gained international attention in December, has since spread to 18 other countries, including the U.S.

Jonathan Fonti

Fact Check Reporter
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