Could Coronavirus Become Pandemic?
The rapidly spreading novel coronavirus has now reached more than 20 countries from China. Experts worry about how many people will get sick and how much further it could spread.
However, a pandemic or a real global outbreak has not yet been declared. The officials are being prepared for the possibility of this being the next pandemic given its rate of spreading.
What does a pandemic mean?
Pandemic refers to the spread of disease across a large region or worldwide. When an epidemic infectious disease affects a large number of people, on a scale that crosses international boundaries, it is called a pandemic.
The 2009 swine flu is a recent example of a pandemic.
Pandemics are more likely if the virus infecting is a novel virus and it is able to easily infect people and from one person to another, it can spread efficiently.
The novel coronavirus seems to be ticking all of these conditions.
Containing the spread of coronavirus is vital because there is no treatment or vaccine that can prevent it yet.
When Do Officials Declare A Pandemic?
Coronavirus is only a step away from being a pandemic according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) description of pandemic phases.
The virus has infected people in many of China’s neighboring and further afield countries and it has been spreading between people.
It will be a pandemic if we start seeing sustained community-level outbreaks in multiple parts of the world.
How likely could Coronavirus Become Pandemic?
Below are the confirmed cases of coronavirus in some countries outside China.
|South Korea||15||Vietnam||8||India||3||Sri Lanka||1|
Information on how severe the disease is, and how far it will spread is still unclear.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General says the spread outside of China so far appears to be “minimal and slow”.
So far, there have been around 20,400 confirmed cases of coronavirus and the death toll has increased to more than 400 deaths, mostly in China.
There are more than 150 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death(in the Philippines), outside China.
Dr. Ghebreyesus said, “The spread of the infection to other countries will be minimal and slow if we can invest in fighting at the epicenter, at the source in China.”
It is almost impossible to predict a virus’s full effects until it starts circulating thus making each pandemic different. When compared to other recent disease outbreaks, such as Sars, coronavirus might be less deadly, said the experts.
Due to the signs of human-to-human transmission outside China and the fear of what could happen if the virus were to spread in a country with a weaker health system, the decision by the World Health Organization to declare the situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) was taken.
However, there is no reason yet for measures which interfere unnecessarily with international trade and travel although countries should take steps to prevent and limit further spread of the virus, said WHO.