Mar 12, 2020

WHO Declares COVID-19 A Pandemic

A list of water and wastewater industry event cancellations & updates on the Coronavirus situation

coronavirus
Coronavirus: What You Need to Know for Water & Wastewater Workers

World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the COVID-19 a pandemic. 

"WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic,” said WHO in a statement. 

“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” continued WHO. “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.”

This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus, reported WHO.

Impacts to the Water Industry

Large gatherings, ranging from conferences to music festivals, are being cancelled in order to minimize contact and mitigate the issue. 

The following water and wastewater events have been cancelled:

The following water and wastewater events are postponed:

  • North Carolina Water Operators Association Spring School postponed to June 8-12.
  • AWWA/AMTA Membrane Technology Conference has been postponed. Future date to be announced.
  • IFAT has been postponed from May 4-8 to Sept. 7-11. 

The following water and wastewater events are still on as planned:

  • AWWA Annual Convention and Exposition
  • WEF Technical Exhibition & Conferences (WEFTEC)

If there are other industry events affected by this outbreak, please contact [email protected].

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What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), according to WHO. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain which has not been previously identified in humans.  

Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and people. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to WHO. 

Preventing Infection & Spread

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. People should also avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing.

In light of this, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is urging Santa Clara County to ban all community gatherings of 250 or more people. There is also a 30 day travel ban from Europe to the U.S. The U.S. ban only applies to the 26 countries in the Schengen Area free movement zone: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients, due to limited access to supplies such as gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns and aprons, added WHO.

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