Over three months after its sudden outbreak, the coronavirus situation has been declared a pandemic by the WHO. Simultaneously, schools are being urged by global organizations such as the IFRC and UNICEF to take measures to protect children against the infection.
The declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic has more to do with its geographic spread and duration of the same rather than the number of cases or related deaths. The rapid rise in the number of cases all around the world, or even country-wide, are parameters that are considered while declaring a pandemic. On the other hand, an epidemic refers to a rise in numbers within a comparatively smaller region.
“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,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.”
While China reports a containment of the infection cases and a subsequent drop in the number of infections, new cases are being reported worldwide. Over the course of the second week of March, India reported its first death and Kazakhstan, as well as Kenya, reported its first cases. More and more global events and gatherings are being canceled. Authorities are also taking efforts to raise awareness, alleviate the panic among citizens, and also root out fake news and misinformation. A panic-induced shortage of several resources such as toilet paper, flour, masks and gloves, and more are being reported worldwide.
The WHO and UNICEF, along with the International Federation of the Red Cross, have issued guidelines about protecting children against infections. This includes shutting down schools, if necessary, and educating children about hygiene practices as well as how to protect themselves best.
To minimize the risk of infections, individuals should focus on increasing immunity, maintaining standards of hygiene, avoid social gatherings. The recent names who have tested positive for coronavirus include celebrity couple Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, as well as Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister. The couple has been placed in isolation in Australia and are updating followers through social media.
If you or a loved one, are experiencing symptoms such as cold, fever, chills, or such, seek immediate help and avoid physical contact with loved ones.
COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.
Get the latest public health information from CDC.
Get the latest research from NIH.