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What's The Difference Between An Epidemic And A Pandemic?

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
PHOTO: istockphoto

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared that the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) is now a pandemic

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Instagram, "In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of #COVID19 cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher. WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock, and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic."

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ICYDK, WHO describes a "pandemic" as "the worldwide spread of a new disease." For reference the last pandemic we dealt with was the H1N1 virus in 2009. 

During a media briefing, Dr. Tedros said, "Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do."

Prior to this characterization, the coronavirus was often described as an "epidemic." In contrast, WHO defines an "epidemic" as "the occurrence in a community or region of cases of an illness, specific health-related behaviour, or other health-related events clearly in excess of normal expectancy."

According to Dr. Michael Ryan, the head of the WHO’s emergencies program, the organization's declaration is meant to "to galvanize the world to fight.

In the Philippines, there are now 49 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

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