Coronavirus: WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic
WHO announced on Wednesday that they were now terming COVID-19 a pandemic
Dubai: On Wednesday night, the World Health Organisation termed the new coronavirus infection, COVID-19, a pandemic. When WHO announced it on Twitter, they also said "... we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction."
What is a pandemic?
A pandemic, as defined by WHO, is the worldwide spread of a new disease. The focus in terming a disease a pandemic, in this case, COVID-19, is the geographical spread of the disease wherein humans seem to have no immunity against it.
So, COVID-19 has been labelled a pandemic because of the fact that 124 countries and territories have been affected. At the time of publishing, there have been over 129,000 confirmed cases with a majority of those in China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain, Germany and the United States in that order. The rest of the countries have fewer than 1,000 cases as of March 12.
COVID-19 is the first coronavirus to be labelled a pandemic. Viruses that have caused past pandemics typically originated from animal influenza viruses - some examples are H1N1 of 2009 or the Spanish flu of 1918.
How is it different from an epidemic or outbreak?
A pandemic is characterised by a global, worldwide spread while epidemics refer to fast and unusually high concentration of a disease in one specific region. Malaria, smallpox, SARS are some examples of well-known epidemics.
The term 'outbreak' is sometimes used interchangeably with 'epidemic' but is usually used for diseases in a small area or community. Four linked cases of a rare infectious disease may be sufficient to constitute an outbreak.
Does a pandemic mean the death of millions?
No, a pandemic as a term is associated with the geographical spread of a disease rather than its level of severity or mortality, according to the WHO.
In fact, more than 70 per cent confirmed cases of COVID-19 have recovered (over 68,000) while more than 80 per cent of cases have very mild symptoms with little to no chances of critical illness.
However, the WHO has highlighted that a level of inaction is evident in some countries.
There have also been several accounts of people not getting easy access to tests and medical attention in suspected cases of COVID-19.
So far, the average death rate for COVID-19 cases has been 2 to 3 per cent and concentrated among the elderly and other high-risk demographics such as people with underlying pre-existing conditions of hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease etc.
People who have significant immunity issues are also at risk of critical illness arising from the coronavirus infection including pneumonia, organ dysfunction etc.
News Source:- Gulf News