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The difference between an epidemic and a pandemic?

The recent outbreak has raised questions about what the coronavirus really means

In this Wednesday, April 16, 2014, file photo, passengers walk past the medical quarantine area showing information sheets for the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus at the arrival section of Manila’s International Airport in Paranaque.
In this Wednesday, April 16, 2014, file photo, passengers walk past the medical quarantine area showing information sheets for the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus at the arrival section of Manila’s International Airport in Paranaque.
Aaron Favila, Associated Press

The coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world, and experts are worried it could soon become a pandemic, according to the Deseret News.

What is going on?

  • The World Health Organization told the Deseret News that the coronavirus isn’t a pandemic yet but it could become one in the near future. The world may not be prepared to deal with a pandemic.
  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, told the Deseret News: “For the moment, we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus and we are not witnessing large-scale severe disease or deaths. Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely it has.”

What is the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic?

The two terms have different definitions.

  • Pandemic is a worldwide spread of a new disease, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Epidemic is when there’s a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a specific time.
  • The easiest way to explain the difference is that an epidemic is a large outbreak that spread throughout a region. A pandemic spreads throughout the entire world on a global scale, impacting millions of people at once, according to The Associated Press. Usually, the WHO looks at outbreak that occur commonly across the world.