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Expat Safety Tips: Pandemic

Plagues, epidemics and pandemics have ransacked humanity multiple times throughout history having a huge impact on civilisations.

An epidemic can occur at any time, there’s no way to predict when one can hit and if the epidemic spreads around the world beyond expectations it can quickly turn into a pandemic.

So, what is a pandemic and how can you stay safe if one is declared?

What is a pandemic?

A pandemic is a global outbreak of a disease or virus. A pandemic is usually classed as an epidemic first but when it spreads across a large region, such as multiple continents or worldwide it then escalates to a pandemic.

There have been many pandemics throughout history with the most recent one being the COVID-19 which was declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the 12th March 2020.

What happens when a pandemic is declared?

The WHO ultimately decides when to officially declare a disease outbreak a pandemic. There is no specific number of deaths, cases or infected countries that decides the classification.

The WHO has to carefully monitor and assess the situation to decide when to make the declaration as often it can trigger global panic which isn’t the organisation’s aim. They also need to ensure governments and health systems are prepared to cope with the repercussions.

What problems can a pandemic cause?

The problems and impacts of a pandemic can often be underestimated and can have an effect on the lives of everyone even those not infected by the disease.

Pandemics can cause:

  • widespread increases in morbidity and mortality with higher mortality impacts on low and middle-income countries
  • economic damage in multiple different ways including short-term and longer-term negative shocks to economic growth
  • behavioural changes, such as fear-induced aversion to workplaces and other public gathering places
  • social and economic disruption
  • increase political stresses and tensions
  • quarantines and lockdowns having severe social and economic effects on businesses and individuals

How to stay safe

It’s important to know how to protect yourself and your loved ones should a pandemic be declared.

Before a pandemic you should:

  • buy and store additional supplies of food and water but be considerate to others
  • check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home should a lockdown be enforced
  • have any non-prescription drugs such as paracetamol and other health supplies on hand
  • discuss with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they get sick or the procedures should a lockdown be put in place

During a pandemic, you should limit the spread of germs and prevent infection by:

  • avoid close contact with people who are sick or who have been in contact with others that may be sick
  • when you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting the virus/disease
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • wash your hands often to help protect you from germs and to decrease the chance of infecting others
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • maintain a routine and get plenty of sleep, stay active as much as possible, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food
  • practice social distancing
  • listen to and obey government instructions
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