We may be on the brink of a coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what that means

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - 14:10 in Health & Medicine

The coronavirus outbreak that began late last year in China has now spread to 29 countries, touching every continent except South America and Antarctica. While the vast majority of cases are still in China, the virus is gaining a foothold in other countries, raising fears the world is on the brink of a pandemic. South Korea has seen nearly 1,000 people sickened just in the last week, while Italian health officials say 229 people nationwide have recently been diagnosed with the disease, now called COVID-19 (SN: 1/29/20).  But who decides what counts as a pandemic, and what does that mean? Here’s what we know so far.   What is a pandemic? According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease. It’s most often used in reference to influenza, and generally connotes that an epidemic has spread to two or more continents with sustained, person-to-person transmission. The severity of illness doesn’t fall under the WHO’s strict definition of a pandemic...

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