On Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the spread of coronavirus has been officially labeled a pandemic. The organization has defined a pandemic as "the worldwide spread of a new disease" and it is different from an epidemic because that is an illness affecting a specific region, whereas this now pandemic coronavirus disease is affecting people on a global scale.
We know that coronavirus disease was first detected in Wuhan City, China, and the first reported cased were linked to a live animal market. Since that time, however, the virus is now spreading from person-to-person.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “The virus that causes COVID-19 [current coronavirus] seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.” The CDC describes “community spread” to mean people have been infected with the virus in an area, including those who aren’t sure how or where they became infected.
In the United States, coronavirus cases include imported cases in travelers who have been to a more highly-infected country, such as China or Italy, as well as cases among those who have had close contact with a known-case, and community-acquired cases where the source of coronavirus is unknown.
The CDC also shared that how easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary, because some are more highly contagious than others, but so far what we know about coronavirus confirms that we need to be extra careful to limit person-to-person contact when possible and always disinfect hands and surfaces regularly.
What to Do During a Pandemic
You may have seen our recent blog on how to prepare for a possible pandemic where we outline a list of supplies that are important to keep stocked in your home, but now that the WHO has officially declared coronavirus disease to be a pandemic, there are certain ways we can limit the spread of germs and prevent infection. The Department of Homeland Security recommends the following:
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- When you are sick, keep your distance from others to avoid spreading your germs
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue right away
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food
If there’s a coronavirus outbreak in your community, it’s important to protect yourself and your family by limiting contact with others. This could mean staying home from work, school and other activities. The CDC lists other steps that can be taken in a community outbreak, including extra precautions for children.
To stay up to date with the latest coverage on coronavirus, including how to best protect yourself and your family, visit the CDC online. AdventHealth also has answers to frequently asked questions surrounding coronavirus, available on our Coronavirus Resource Hub.