WHO Says Coronavirus Is a Pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) has labelled the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

What’s the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic?

An epidemic disease is one “affecting many persons at the same time, and spreading from person to person in a locality where the disease is not permanently prevalent.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) further specifies epidemic as occurring at the level of a region or community.

Graphic: WHO

In contrast, a pandemic is a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time. In the last 2 weeks, the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold.

WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said called on governments to change the course of the outbreak by taking “urgent and aggressive action”.

“Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled.”

“The challenge for many countries who are now dealing with large clusters or community transmission is not whether they can do the same – it’s whether they will.”

Philippa Roxby of BBC Health said in an article that the use of pandemic by the WHO to describe the global spread of this new coronavirus is not a huge surprise.

Previously the WHO has talked merely of the “threat” or the “potential” for a pandemic. But there are now Coronavirus cases in more than 100 countries, with increasing numbers not linked to travel.

“What the use of the word “pandemic” highlights is the importance of countries around the world taking urgent action to respond to their own outbreaks – because now it’s everyone’s responsibility to turn the tide on the virus.”

Yet this doesn’t mean the pandemic cannot be controlled. China – where the Coronavirus was first detected – recorded its lowest number of new infections, just 19, on Tuesday this week.

What is Singapore doing about the Coronavirus?

Singapore is also stepping up its measures. In fact, Dr Tedros has praised Singapore’s “all-government approach” in the containment of Covid-19.

“Singapore is a good example of an all-of-government approach – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s regular videos are helping to explain the risks and reassure people.”

In mid-February, he said that the WHO was very impressed with the efforts Singapore was making to find every case, follow up with contacts and stop transmission, and that other countries should follow Singapore’s example of handling the outbreak.

“The rule of the game is never give up.”

Get updates from MOH on COVID-19 news and useful infographics to play your part and stay safe during this outbreak.

Featured photo: ABC News

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