Scientists say the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak could soon be declared a pandemic. Here’s what that means.

Bill Bostock

Scientists say the Wuhan coronavirus that has so far killed 362 people and infected over 17,000 could soon become a pandemic.

A pandemic is defined as “the worldwide spread of a new disease,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

It’s also defined by a lack of available treatment, a lack of human immunity, and an ability to spread from person to person.

“It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told The New York Times .

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Scientists and disease experts say the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak could soon be declared a pandemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) designated the coronavirus whose scientific name is 2019-nCoV a ” public-health emergency of international concern ” last week. Calling the virus a pandemic would take it to a new level, however, since that term refers to a more worldwide outbreak.

“It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told The New York Times .

Here are the criteria for a virus to be labeled a pandemic:

The WHO defines a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.”

* A pandemic disease spreads across “several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

* Virus outbreaks can be characterized as a pandemic if the disease is “markedly different from recently circulating strains” and if “humans have little or no immunity” to it, according to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive .

* A disease becomes a pandemic when it can infect many humans over a large area, be transferred from person to person, and cause clinical illness, the HSE said.

The term epidemic, by contrast, refers to a more localized or regional outbreak, rather than a global one. That’s what health agencies so far consider the coronavirus outbreak to be.

The CDC says an epidemic is an “increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area.”

Similarly, the WHO defines an epidemic as the “occurrence in a community or region of cases of an illness, specific health-related behavior, or other health-related events clearly in excess of normal expectancy.”

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About Cholo Brooks 12126 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.