Health experts say the new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV or COVID-19, could become a pandemic, a term that often reminds people of the 1918 flu pandemic which killed tens of millions of people. People may think pandemic as a catastrophe, but by definition, a pandemic doesn’t require that scale of destruction.
Epidemic and pandemic
An epidemic is defined as “a widespread occurrence of a disease in a community at a particular time.”
A pandemic is an outbreak of global proportions. It happens when a bacterium or novel virus becomes capable of spreading rapidly.
The key to epidemic is “occurrence.” An epidemic is an event in which a disease is actively spreading. In contrast, the term pandemic related to geographic spread and is used to describe a disease that affects a whole country or the entire world.
Pandemics are usually caused by a novel infectious agent, an infectious agent that is newly capable of spreading rapidly, or both.
The death toll in a pandemic is generally higher than that in an epidemic.
A pandemic spreads beyond national borders, possibly worldwide, while an epidemic is specific to one city, region, or country.
Will the coronavirus become a pandemic? There are some indications that it may, but experts can’t say for sure. “Given the nature of how easily it’s spreading in China, I would not be surprised if it evolved into a pandemic,” said a medical expert.
And, should you worry about a coronavirus pandemic? Well, instead of worrying, educate yourself, suggests experts. US health officials are taking coordinated and forceful steps, and they seem to be working.