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Current Affairs

Pandemic

Date: 14 March 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. A pandemic is the global outbreak of a disease.

 

Background

 When a new disease spreads over a vast geographical area covering several countries and continents, and most people do not have immunity against it, the outbreak is termed a pandemic.

 

Details

  • Pandemics are generally classified as epidemics first, which is the rapid spread of a disease across a particular region or regions.

  • It implies a higher level of concern than an epidemic, which the US Centers of Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) defines as the spread of a disease in a localised area or country.

  • There is no fixed number of cases or deaths that determine when an outbreak becomes a pandemic. The Ebola virus, which killed thousands in West Africa, is an epidemic as it is yet to mark its presence on other continents.

  • Other outbreaks caused by coronaviruses such as MERS (2012) and SARS (2002), which spread to 27 and 26 countries respectively, were not labelled pandemics because they were eventually contained.

  • China announced the outbreak on December 31 and declared a public health emergency on January 30. The WHO waited for 72 days before declaring it a pandemic. The outbreak was so far mostly limited to China, which has taken stringent countermeasures.

  • There is a view among many experts, however, that the categorisation as a pandemic can lead to more government attention. It will help improve funding by international organisations to combat coronavirus.