More than 1,200 people have contracted swine flu in Australia – although no-one has died from it yet.
The large numbers of people infected with the virus may mean the WHO will label the infection a pandemic.
What does pandemic mean? It means “global”. The origin of the word is
pándēmos common, public (pan- pan- meaning everything+ dêm(os) the people.
I don’t understand why it will suddenly become a pandemic, just because a lot of people in Australia get sick with the virus.
Nor do I understand why the WHO alert level is
currently at phase five of a six-level scale
when a) the virus is not getting stronger or more dangerous, and
b) more people are not dying of it.
The combined effect of using the word “pandemic” (which in English sounds like “panic”) together with the 6-level scale of “flu alert” is to frighten people and make it more likely that people will react in panic rather than rationally.
A BBC reporter points out:
BBC medical correspondent Fergus Walsh says
it is true that the word “pandemic” sounds scary. But it simply means a global epidemic of an infectious disease. He says it is not a signal that the virus is getting more virulent – only a measure of its geographical spread…. The media must play a part here, emphasising the facts about this virus and not over-reacting
Yes, thank you, Mr. Walsh.
What do you think about the way the media have reacted to the swine flu?