Epidemic vs. pandemic? Glossary of terms for virus outbreak

Grant Boone
February 27, 2020

"This virus can be contained", he told reporters in Geneva, praising China for helping to prevent an even bigger spread of the disease through unprecedented lockdowns and quarantines in or near the outbreak's epicentre.

"Does this virus have pandemic potential?"

"What we are seeing at the moment are outbreaks and clusters of cases in multiple countries". He described as especially worrisome the disease's spread in Iran, where there are 61 cases as of Tuesday and 12 fatalities.

Asked about the spike in cases in Iran, WHO's emergencies program director, Michael Ryan, cautioned that in the first wave of infections reported from a country, only the deaths may be being picked up and therefore be over-represented.

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As the virus begins to disrupt other countries more severely - with business events being canceled in South Korea and Italy, for example - some economists worry about a hit to economic growth that can not be easily assuaged by authorities.

Asked about the Italian scare, he said Cyprus was following the advice of World Health Organization and ECDC, which haven't revised instructions or warnings about travelers from Italy, South Korea - which has even more incidents than Italy, or from Iran, which has also recorded deaths. Experts are becoming increasingly concerned that the virus is being spread by asymptomatic people, and that the incubation period for the virus may in fact be longer than 14 days.

Eurasia consultancy's Scott Rosenstein said the bad news from Iran, South Korea and Italy had undercut confidence sustained human-to-human transmission can be limited to China.

Authorities in Hong Kong announced that from Tuesday it would not allow arrivals from South Korea other than returning residents.

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And yet, he emphasized his own administration's efforts to secure its borders and crack down on " radical Islamic terrorism ". As of right now, though, there are no finalized menus for the trip.

People in the affected areas are being told to follow public health advice from local Italian authorities.

South Korea reported another large leap in new cases on Monday.

Tedros noted that the WHO has already declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency, a step it took in late January as cases began to surge in China.

Markets across the world also fell as the epidemic risked turning into a pandemic. The Dow industrials tumbled about 800 points in early trading, following steep drops in Europe and Asia.

Asked whether the United Kingdom could put in place restrictive measures such as those seen in Italy to combat the spread of the disease, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We will be led by the advice from public health and medical experts and will take steps which they feel are required to best protect the British public".

Afghanistan also confirmed its first case of coronavirus in western Herat province.

"Many different countries around the world may be sources of COVID-19 infections", said Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh.

The Omani health ministry said two women diagnosed with the disease had recently visited Iran. According to the country's state news agency, the cases, which include a Saudi national, were among 700 people evacuated from the Iranian city of Mashad last week.

The UK remains "prepared for all eventualities", Downing Street has insisted, as fears over a global coronavirus pandemic continue to grow. China has reported 2,592 deaths among 77,150 cases on the mainland.

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