There have been lots of news spreading about the recently discovered Novel Coronavirus or also known as “2019-nCoV” in the city of Wuhan in China.
It’s a kind of virus that is related to the likes of the common cold and known deadly viruses like the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) of 2003 and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) of 2012.
The recent event caused a mass hysteria not only among people from the nearby cities but also among neighboring Asian countries fearing that the virus may become pandemic.
Pandemic vs Epidemic
Oftentimes the two words can be easily confused over the other as both terms describe a significant increase in occurrence of a certain phenomenon over a specific period of time.
To simply put it, epidemic can refer to a sudden increase in the number of cases of a certain disease above what is normally expected while pandemic would refer to an epidemic that has spread over to several countries or even continents and affecting a significantly large number of people.
Throughout the course of history, there have been multiple pandemics that have devastated the human collective. Notable pandemics are the following:
- The Plague of Justinian of 541 A.D. that killed 25 million people (half of Europe’s population) in one year.
- The Black Plague that killed more than 75 million people across Europe and Asia from 1347 to 1353.
- The cholera pandemic of 1816 to 1824 that killed over 40 million people from India, Russia and Indonesia.
- The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 that caused 50 million deaths that includes 675,000 Americans.
- AIDS was first discovered in 1981 and has at least killed 35 million people worldwide.
Should we be scared?
With the help of the internet, news can spread like wildfire among all the people in the world which will normally cause mass panic - and that’s totally normal for us humans to react that way.
However, with the technology nowadays and the people responsible for monitoring the occurrence of epidemics and the people tasked to stopping the spread of it, we can somehow prepare ourselves should a pandemic happen.
For example; as accounted by the World Health Organization, 22 out of 27 Western Pacific countries have nation-wide plans for pandemic preparedness and 92% of the countries found in the Western Pacific Region regularly conduct outpatient surveillance for illness that may cause a pandemic (i.e. Influenza).
This means that while an occurrence of a pandemic is uncertain, you can be assured that help will be there.
But it doesn’t hurt to prepare ourselves as well.
How can we prepare?
For a few decades now it seems like pandemics are caused by viruses that inhibit flu-like symptoms.
So, it’s imperative that we should prepare ourselves for such cases to happen and not wait until it’s too late to prepare.
If ever a news of a certain disease is rapidly increasing in your area, here are a few things that we should remember:
Knowing the Symptoms
This is one of the first steps in making sure that you will be able to quickly identify if one of your family members is infected or someone you know might be. Knowing the signs and symptoms will also help during observation to know whether or not the disease is progressing or regressing in an infected individual.
Fortify Your Home
This includes following a strict disinfecting and cleaning regimen, and in cases of mass panic and hysteria, making sure that your house is safe from angry mobs and possible looters.
NOTE: You might also need to create a “sick room” in case a family member shows signs and symptoms so you can isolate them and not spread the infection.
Store Food, Water and Medical Supplies
This is a no-brainer. Food and water supply may become scarce once the outbreak reaches critical levels.
So if evacuation is not a certainty or you feel like it may cause you more harm, staying at home with a sufficient supply of food, water and medical supplies can go a long way.
Medical supplies like surgical masks, respirators, anti-bacterial soaps and alcohol-based sanitizers should be included in your kit as well.
This will help reduce the spread of the virus significantly.
Bug In or Bug Out?
As discussed above, evacuating or bugging out during a pandemic may not be the best option, especially if you and your family are not physically prepared to deal with people outside who are possibly infected.
Outbreaks can take a few months or a year to be under control.
So during a pandemic staying at home rather than going outside may be advised.
With this we need to make sure that when we bug in or hunker down, we have sufficient supplies with us that would help us survive the threat for a significant amount of time.
Nothing beats being prepared for the worst situations, especially when there’s a lot of time to plan out everything.
We must all remember that although we have come a long way when it comes to medical advances, viruses such as the nCoV which is currently devastating some parts of the world can mutate and become something that we might not even be immune to.
Preparing yourself and your family members both mentally and physically will increase your likelihood of survival during a pandemic.