Coronavirus: WHO declares Covid-19 a ‘pandemic’- what does it mean and how severe is the spread?

FE Online

Coronavirus updates: As the Coronavirus has left more than 1,00,000 people infected and more than 4,000 people dead, the World Health Organisation has finally declared the spread of the virus as 'Pandemic'. Up until then, the world’s premier health body had called it an 'outbreak' and not a pandemic. The WHO has expressed concerns about the severity and the rate of spread, which it calls alarming. The health body has also said that it is alarmed at the level of inaction at various levels against a virus that now has a global presence. The WHO has asserted that it has monitored the onset and the spread of the virus and after an assessment, has decided to characterize the Covid-19 as a pandemic. There was a wide range of questions against WHO's refusal to take cognizance of the global spread of Covid-19 and refusal to call it a pandemic.

What defines disease as Pandemic?

As per the description given by the WHO, a pandemic is called when a new disease spreads across the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has described pandemic as "an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people." An endemic, which sets the base for the definition of a pandemic has been defined by the CDC as "an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area.'' The definition given by the two heath agencies establishes the fact that pandemic is primarily associated with the extent of the spread of any disease, not its severity.

The total number of Covid-19 cases has jumped to 1,18,000 while the total number of deaths stands close to 4,300. China, where the virus originated has the maximum number of cases followed by Iran, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. Governments are banning international travels and suspending visas issued during the viral outbreak to curb the virus from creating a further disaster for the people and the world's economy.