COVID-19: Why is it called a 'Global Pandemic?'
It took a couple of months for Coronavirus diseases 2019 (COVID-19) to turn into a worldwide emergency. As of today, the number of COVID-19 positive cases has increased to more than two lacs and the number of countries affected by the virus has increased drastically. More than 8500 people have lost their live due to COVID-19. In Jammu and Kashmir, Covid-19 has been declared as an epidemic with four persons testing positive so far and those having a foreign travel history have been kept under surveillance.
World Health Organization made the decision to declare COVID- 19 as a 'global pandemic'. 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.
LEVELS OF A DISEASE
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are different levels of disease, based on how widespread it is and how often it occurs within a community. The first level is called “endemic.” This is the amount of disease usually present in a community; the constant presence or usual occurrence of a disease or infectious agent in a population. It’s also referred to as the “baseline level” of a disease. An “epidemic” is a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease above the endemic level for that area. Finally, a “pandemic” is an epidemic that’s spread over several countries or continents. It usually affects a large number of people, usually contagious - spreading from person-to-person causing significant illness and death on an exceptionally broad worldwide scale.
Being declared as a "global pandemic of grevious concern and seeing its community spread from people- having a travel history to the most affected countries in the world including Italy, Iran et all besides China, taking seriously preventive measures is the best key to remain safe.
As per CDC, everyone can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by knowing the facts and sharing them with others in your community.
FACT 1: Diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can cause people to avoid or reject others even though they are not at risk for spreading the virus.
FACT 2: For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. However, older adults and people of any age with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, or heart disease, are at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
FACT 3: Someone who has completed quarantine or has been released from isolation does not pose a risk of infection to other people.
FACT 4: Knowing the signs and symptoms: Fever, Dry cough, Shortness of breath with an incubation period of 2 to 14 days.
FACT 5: Persons who have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in or have recently travelled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 are at greater risk. It is important to remember here that people ,who do not live in or have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, or have not been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of spreading COVID-19.
FACT 6: Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 via travellers who are suspected or infected cases and attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. Avoidance of social gatherings is the key to combat the community spread.
FACT 7: The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. A single cough can produce up to 3,000 droplets. These particles can land on other people; clothing and surfaces around them, but some of the smaller particles can remain in the air.
*Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
*Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
*Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
* Social distancing is important. Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
*Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care and. Cover your cough. Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
When to wear a FACE MASK
*If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room.
*If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
*Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
The author is the Chairman cum Director of J&K Innovative Foundation for Transforming Society (JKIFTS). He is also a Medical practitioner at SMVD Narayana Superspeciality Hospital Jammu.