With the skyrocketing cases of coronavirus affecting many countries on a global scale, the World Health Organization (WHO) has come to a decision to declare the novel coronavirus a pandemic. This is not a drill.

The rising cases affected businesses; industrial; manufacturing; distrupts technology; cancelled concerts around the world; suspends classes in many parts of the world; hit finance and economy, not limited to government agencies and leaders; affected religious congregations; travel industry halted; and many people are affected, emotionally and physically, from this disease.

With more than 118,000 cases and 4,000 deaths, the virus has found a foothold on every continent except for Antarctica, said WHO.

“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.

“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.”

World news reported panic buying and violence triggered by the spread of COVID-19. In the Philippines, reports of panic buying, from toilet papers to alcohol, were seen in many supermarkets, I myself have witnessed, and photos of empty store racks are shared through social media.

If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response, those with a handful of novel coronavirus cases can prevent those cases becoming clusters, and those clusters becoming community transmission, Ghebreyesus said.

Lockdowns in some parts of the world are being implemented as the disease continues to spread across key cities where PUIs were detected. In Metro Manila, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of classes from March 10 up to the 14th.

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

When does an outbreak becomes epidemic? And what is pandemic?

An outbreak is a sudden localized incidence of a disease. An “outbreak” can become an epidemic if it the spread becomes more severe, infecting more people over a wider area. Finally, if the disease continues to spread uncontrolled, it can become a pandemic, where the “epidemic” has become widespread over large geographic areas and has infected very high numbers of individuals. One such “pandemic” is the Spanish Flu of 1918.

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