PandemicDate: 14 March 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. A pandemic is the global outbreak of a disease.
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.
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.