Let's understand what a pandemic is
A pandemic is an outbreak of?infectious disease that occurs over a wide geographical area and that is of high prevalence. A pandemic generally affects a significant proportion of the world’s population, usually over the course of several months. Throughout history, humanity has survived several pandemics. While this global health crisis continues to evolve, it can be useful to look to the past to help us understand our possible future.
Key contributors of the time
Throughout history, physicians, scientists, and researchers have been among the many who paved the road for medical scientific breakthroughs and discoveries. Here is a small sample of the key contributors of the time.
German Hungarian physician who discovered the cause of puerperal (childbed) fever and introduced antisepsis into medical practice
American physician and medical researcher who developed the first safe and effective vaccine for polio
Understanding COVID-19 and coronavirus
In humans, a species known as?SARS?coronavirus (or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus) causes a highly contagious?respiratory disease?that is characterized by symptoms of?fever,?cough, and muscle ache, often with progressive difficulty in breathing. The virus emerged in humans in 2002; it likely jumped to humans from an animal reservoir, believed to be horseshoe?bats.
Kara Rogers, Britannica's Senior Editor of Biomedical Sciences, answers common questions about COVID-19
How much of the population will the Coronavirus pandemic actually affect?
While it is difficult to estimate just how many people will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that a significant proportion of the world’s population will be infected in the coming months.?Read more?
Who can declare a pandemic, and what criteria is required for it be called a pandemic?
The World Health Organization (WHO) is responsible for declaring a pandemic. WHO monitors disease activity on a global scale through a network of surveillance centers located in countries worldwide. Read more
The incubation period for a disease can be determined in several ways. Generally, however, it is calculated as the time from a known exposure incident to the infectious agent until onset of symptoms. Read more
The national conversation
From national emergencies to government aid and statewide curfews, COVID-19 has changed the national conversation as we know it. It has provoked a global discussion and questions about our healthcare systems, how we diagnose, how we work, how we educate, and so much more.??
What is martial law, and how does it work?
When was the last time a national emergency was called?
What were some of the world's most devastating financial crises?
How to talk to young children about the coronavirus?
When was the last time schools were closed in the U.S. for a health crisis?
What are emergency powers, and when did they emerge?
COVID-19 emergency resources now available to every school
?Over the past two months, Britannica has been working with our partner schools across the world who are grappling with COVID-19 school closures and student absences and making swift plans to keep their communities safe. As schools across the United States implement and prepare for school closures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their communities, we want to ensure that you are aware of the free emergency support and virtual-learning classroom resources Britannica has made available to every school.?