1. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. There is no fixed number of cases or deaths that determine when an outbreak becomes a pandemic.
2. Simply put, a pandemic is a measure of the spread of a disease. When a new disease spreads over a vast geographical area covering several countries and continents, and most people do not have immunity against it, the outbreak is termed a pandemic.
3. It implies a higher level of concern than an epidemic, which the US Centers of Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) defines as the spread of a disease in a localised area or country.
4. The Ebola virus, which killed thousands in West Africa, is an epidemic as it is yet to mark its presence on other continents.
5. Other outbreaks caused by coronaviruses such as MERS (2012) and SARS (2002), which spread to 27 and 26 countries respectively, were not labelled pandemics because they were eventually contained.