The new Coronavirus appears to be continuing to circulate around the world, with new countries announcing the discovery of cases of the virus and its arrival in all continents of the world, except perhaps Antarctica.
The matter reached the point that the World Health Organization announced , on January 30th, the spread of the virus as” A health emergency with an international dimension”, While the organization insists so far not to declare it a “pandemic“, despite its assertion that the world must be prepared for this stage.
In this context, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus , said: ” We have to focus on containing (The epidemic), while doing everything possible to prepare for a possible global pandemic, “he stressed ” At the present time we are witnessing a global spread that cannot be contained in this virus, and we are not witnessing a large number of deaths”.
What is an pandemic ?
According to WHO Director of Emergency Michael Ryan, the pandemic has nothing to do with the severity of the disease, but rather its geographical spread, as the World Health Organization defines it as a situation “in which the entire world is likely to be exposed to this disease and may cause a large proportion of the population to be infected with the disease”.
According to the general definition of the pandemic, it is that disease that spreads in several countries around the world at the same time, and therefore, according to the World Health Organization, a pandemic is announced when a new disease that does not obtains immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations.
Cases involving travelers who were infected in China and then returned to their homeland, or who were infected by returning travelers, are known as “indicative states”, and are unreliable as a reason for declaring a pandemic.
Once the disease has been declared a pandemic, it is likely that the disease will eventually spread widely within society, and here governments and health systems need to ensure that they are prepared for that stage of the spread of the infection..
On the other hand, the pandemic is a sudden increase in illness or disease that can be unique in one country or one community.
When will the pandemic be announced?
Infection control expert Mary Louise Maclau, who worked as a WHO consultant, said that the declaration of the pandemic is not always clear because it may depend on the modeling used, which may differ between the World Health Organization and other health organizations, noting that in the end, the organization Global health is the final say on that.
She indicated that there is no limit to be committed, such as a certain number of deaths or infections, or the number of affected countries.
For example , in 2003, the World Health Organization did not declare SARS as a pandemic, although 26 countries were affected by it, but it was its spread is contained quickly, and only a certain countries have been affected significantly, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Canada.
Maclau pointed out that ” The World Health Organization does many things for many reasons, but part of the reason for declaring the pandemic, if it was announced, is the arrival of the disease or its spread to the so-called critical mass, and when it begins to deal with it seriously, the symptoms cannot be ignored, in addition to obtaining necessary funding to help deal with the disease and overcome it”.
In 2009, the World Health Organization came under criticism for announcing the swine flu virus” H1N1″ is based on a pandemic, as it based its decision on criteria that are no longer used, despite the fact that the virus has spread throughout the world, but it was not of the expected severity, and therefore accused the organization of rushing to declare it as a pandemic, and thus raised Global panic without justification.
Hence, it is clear that the announcement of the spread of a disease like a disease raises global panic, which may reduce awareness of the disease and lead to a state of panic in the emergency departments of hospitals and to excessive government spending on medicines, antivirals and others.