What is a pandemic?

What is a pandemic?

An epidemic is a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. A pandemic is the next ‘level up’ – it is when an outbreak goes all over a country and beyond. The current coronavirus pandemic is a worldwide pandemic. 

The 2019-20 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Currently, there is a pandemic of the new coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. The outbreak of the coronavirus began in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Initially, it was not considered a pandemic as it was limited to China and neighbouring countries. On 30th January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

 On March 12th, it was classified as a pandemic by the WHO.  As of 27th April 2020, there have been over 2,992,970 cases of COVID-19, including 31,933 in Africa. This includes 1,423 deaths and 9,566 recoveries on the continent, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Fatalities include the former President of the Republic of the Congo Jacques Joachim Yhombi-Opango and Somalia’s former Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein. There are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in all but two of Africa’s countries: Comoros and Lesotho.

Other pandemics

HIV/AIDs is another pandemic that is currently occurring. Over 32 million people have died from the HIV/AIDs pandemic. There are currently over 37.9 million people living with HIV, of which 2 out of 3 live in Africa. 

There is no cure for HIV infection. However, unlike coronavirus, there are treatments available for HIV currently. With the correct treatments, people with HIV can have a normal life expectancy, and not pass on the virus., Thanks to HIV treatments and campaigns to encourage testing and condom use (to stop the virus being passed on through unprotected sex), HIV-related deaths fell by almost half between 2000 and 2018. 13.6 million lives were saved. 

There have also been many pandemics throughout history. The worst pandemic ever recorded was the Black Death. The Black Death was a global outbreak of the bubonic plague in the 1300s. It was a pandemic that killed an estimated 75-200 million people, including more than 1-in-3 people living in Europe at the time. Now, there are very few cases of the plague each year and it can be treated with antibiotics.

The future

Pandemics are very dangerous and cause the loss of many lives. Scientists are working hard to develop vaccines and treatment for the current new coronavirus pandemic. Until then, it is important to follow the rules put in place by governments and health services to reduce the spread of this pandemic and therefore save lives



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