What is pandemic, and is Coronavirus one?
A sharp rise in Coronavirus cases is making experts fear that it may soon become a worldwide pandemic.
Why the fear?
In recent months an outbreak of the deadly virus, known as covid-19, has plagued most regions in China and has also reached the UK and mainland Europe.
New cases are being reported on a daily basis around the globe, with a seventh person dying in Italy after contracting the disease.
South Korea has reported 231 new cases, taking the total up to 833 and coronavirus-related fatalities to 8.
Meanwhile, 50 people have died in the Iranian city of Qom from the virus, according to reports.
The UK saw four more cases of Covid-19 over the weekend, taking the total number of virus cases to 13.
What is pandemic?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) no longer uses the official term ‘pandemic’ but coronavirus remains an international emergency.
Under the old system, a pandemic was declared when a new disease spread to several countries and showed sustained transmission between humans. Some experts say this is obviously happening with coronavirus.
So far, all 13 UK cases have been linked to known cases from Asia, but experts are worried about the emergency of the disease in people with no clear contact with anyone from affected Asian countries, suggesting it is being passed on by people with no symptoms.
How is pandemic different from an epidemic?
In essence, a pandemic is when a new, infectious disease easily spreads around the world from person to person.
Meanwhile an epidemic is when the spread of an infectious disease is more localised or contained within a region.
Epidemics can become pandemics but not vice versa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states an epidemic “refers to an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area”.