SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – As confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to rise worldwide, so does the concern of it becoming a pandemic.
A pandemic is an epidemic on a larger scale, meaning it’s a disease that has spread across multiple continents or even worldwide. Coronavirus was first only seen in people who traveled to affected areas, but now we’re starting to see some community transmission.
There are now 43 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. 22News spoke with the chief of infectious disease at Baystate Medical Center Monday to find out how concerned the average person should be.
“At this point, the risk of COVID-19 is low in Massachusetts,” Dr. Armando Paez said. “It is expected that there will be cases in the community but at this point there is no documented community transmission yet.”
Dr. Paez said although the World Health Organization has not declared coronavirus a pandemic, it has some elements that could make it become one. Although there are far more flu cases and deaths, he believes people are so concerned about coronavirus because it’s very new.
“There are things that are still evolving so people are naturally nervous about the situation,” Paez said. “We don’t know the denominator yet of the infected ones as opposed to those who have died so nobody really can tell you the mortality rate of this infection.
The coronavirus is mainly spread through contact with respiratory droplets such as fluid from coughs and sneezes. To protect yourself, like any other illness, the doctor said it’s important to wash your hands, avoid contact with sick people, and stay home if you’re sick.