The number of coronavirus cases continues to skyrocket. Showing no signs of departure, the virus has already claimed 4284 lives and has affected 1,19,004 people. It has even pushed the world to a potential recession period.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that public health officials are operating in “uncharted territory” as they combat the spread of the virus. Yet it hasn’t referred to the outbreak as a pandemic or rather refrains themselves from doing so.
It is more or less clear that classifying the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic is not a matter of if, but when. WHO themselves had made it clear that it is a possibility in the near future.
“The threat of a pandemic has become very real,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a briefing on Monday. He still refused to describe the situation as an actual pandemic.
According to the organization, it is not right to use the word “pandemic” as we are still unclear about the impact of the disease. Though there are huge death tolls in a few countries, most countries have reported only a few cases. There are still hopes of containing the virus.
But many disagree suggesting that what we are witnessing is nothing short of a pandemic.
But what is a pandemic? The World Health Organization defines an epidemic as “the occurrence in a community or region of cases of illness, clearly in excess of normal expectancy.” While, pandemic is “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.”
If we go by the definition, what we are witnessing now is then a pandemic. Cases are reported from more than 100 countries and regions, and 20 countries have reported more than 100 cases.
But for WHO, “Using the word pandemic carelessly has no tangible benefit, but it does have a significant risk in terms of amplifying unnecessary and unjustified fear and stigma, and paralyzing systems.”
Pandemic, however, isn’t a quantifier on the seriousness of any disease. It merely refers to how many parts of the world are dealing with an elevated rate of the disease
After all, Why it matters that something is called a pandemic? Words can’t be used carelessly, especially if it can make the situation worse. One thing that is clear once we categorize an outbreak, a pandemic is that it has to be fought at an international level. It also means that there is no point in shutting your borders for the disease is everywhere.
According to National Geographic, ” A pandemic signifies that authorities no longer believe they can contain the spread of the virus and must move to mitigation strategies, like closing schools and canceling mass gatherings.”
Countries would be expected to share their knowledge pool with each other so that there is a solution soon for the problem at hand.
It is more or less true that we are at the mercy of the Virus. Whatever we choose to call it, pandemic or not, the need of the hour is to combat it with proactive steps. And certainly, reducing the impact of the outbreak doesn’t offer any solutions.