Is the world already experiencing a pandemic? Many people may feel this way because of the geographic reach of the coronavirus strain known as COVID-19, which has already touched more than 70 countries on six continents with more than 12,000 cases reported outside mainland China so far.

The word “pandemic” may cause panic, but in fact there are more reasons to remain calm and take precautions instead of panicking. There is absolutely no need to panic. All the social health practices would not change if the World Health Organization declares a pandemic of the COVID-19. Even with a pandemic, the good thing is that the COVID-19 can be contained over time. Although not out the woods yet, China has demonstrated that the virus can significantly be controlled with aggressive public health measures. We can also say the same thing from the Diamond Princess cruise ship experience and how the transmission was limited due to the health measures aggressively implemented. It’s really up to every person to do his or her part to help contain the spread of this virus.

The following are criteria for a pandemic:

  1. The virus spreads very easily from person to person.
  2. It causes significant sickness and death.
  3. It has spread globally.

The number of cases outside mainland China is evidently still too small for the WHO to declare a pandemic. However, if the virus is declared a pandemic, it’s likely that life may be less tedious with relaxed restrictions and border protection measures and more focus around the world would be on finding a vaccine and developing treatments for COVID-19. Here are some ways to take precautions:

  1. Avoid travelling to affected countries and going into crowds and on public transportations.
  2. Avoid handshakes, hugs and kisses.
  3. Do not borrow pens or use public pens when you travel.
  4. Wash hands frequently for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  5. Avoid social and networking events, conferences and other large gatherings.
  6. Cough or sneeze in elbow or in a tissue.
  7. Wear a mask if feeling sick or if you have a weak immune system.
  8. Avoid food sharing, especially buffet style.
  9. Share this and more tips with families and friends.

Research shows that viruses like this one generally run their course, whether they are contained or a vaccine is developed. Either way, there’s always some level of impact on economies, but this too shall pass.