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WHO Declares COVID-19 A Pandemic. Here's What It Means, What You Can Do
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  • Expecting the number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, deaths, and affected countries to climb even higher in the coming days and weeks ahead, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that COVID-19 is now a pandemic.

    "WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock, and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom said in his announcement

    "We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic," he said. 

    As of this writing, there are now more than 118,000 cases of COVID-19 in 114 countries and 4,291 deaths. Outside China, where the new disease first emerged, the countries with the highest number of cases are Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain, Germany, and the U.S. More than 67,000 individuals had recovered from the disease.

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    The Philippines, which currently has 49 confirmed cases, is under a state of public health emergency due to local transmission, and the Department of Health (DOH) foresees community transmission happening soon. Yesterday, March 11, 2020, the health department announced the country's second death due to COVID-19. Only two had recovered from the disease, so far. 

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    Many in the health and scientific communities have predicted that COVID-19 will be a pandemic because it has been spreading rapidly, there is no vaccine against the disease yet, and there is a huge possibility that many cases remain under-reported. Even countries with strong healthcare systems have been struggling to deal with the virus. 

    What happens during a pandemic  

    A pandemic is an epidemic of worldwide proportions. An epidemic is the rapid spread of an infectious disease to a large number of people within a short period.

    During a pandemic, the priority shifts to the efficient management of COVID-19 cases and mitigation of transmission, as explained by infectious diseases specialist and molecular biologist Dr. Edsel Maurice T. Salvana in an article for Smartparenting.com.ph in February. 

    What does this mean? Not much changes actually. Hospitals need to be ready to address the possible surge in the number of cases. Some hospitals will be designated to handle COVID-19 cases in which healthcare workers are specially trained to efficiently and competently care for these patients. 

    Travel bans and lockdowns may remain, especially for the countries with the most cases. Still, these may be less essential as infection from the virus may come from practically anywhere. (Read more about Dr. Salvana's explanation here.) 

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    What you should do during a 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," Dr. Tedros said.

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    The first thing you can do to protect your family during a pandemic is to not panic. COVID-19 is easily spread from one person to another via direct contact, so arm yourself with the correct information. You and your family's best defense against the infection is proper hygiene, and avoiding unnecessary travel to areas with confirmed cases or exposure to large crowds

    Here are some useful links:

    Prepare a pandemic preparedness kit.

    Practice proper handwashing.

    Practice proper cough etiquette.

    Practice proper use of surgical masks. 

    Use effective disinfectants to clean surfaces.

    Check for symptoms of respiratory diseases.

    Follow proper home quarantine guidelines.

    For more COVID-19 updates, click here.

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