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Is COVID-19 an epidemic or an "infodemic" as the World Health Organization refers to the current situation?

World Heath Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "we're not just fighting an epidemic; we're fighting an infodemic."

There is no doubt that there is an ongoing global effort to battle the illness. However, you are likely to see or hear conflicting information regarding the virus on social media, television or radio. It is critical that you understand the illness and the constant-changing information environment around it.

The bottom line is, according to experts at the WHO and U.S. Centers for Disease Control, most people who contract COVID-19 will experience only mild illness. For some demographics, mainly older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes), there is a higher risk the illness could be more serious.

To put it in perspective, WHO officials estimate that COVID-19 has a 0.7 percent mortality rate outside Wuhan, China. According to the CDC, people who were hospitalized for influenza during 2017-2018 had a 7.5 percent mortality rate.

The danger is the virility of the disease as it is exponentially more contagious than other respiratory illnesses. "Due to the speed at which COVID-19 spreads, the current focus of the fight is to isolate individuals infected to limit transmission," said Col. Michael Cohen, Eighth Army's command surgeon. "Then we can treat the illness, help them recover and interrupt the infection cycle."

If proper precautions are taken to limit sustained human-to-human transmission, most can reduce their risk of infection.

Coughing or sneezing is the most common route of COVID-19 transmission. According to the CDC, spread from person-to-person is most likely among close contacts, within 6 feet.

In simpler terms, transmission of this disease mimics how influenza, the common cold and other respiratory illnesses spread and the main way to catch it is inhaling the infection, or by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it.

"There are four important things our service members, civilian employees and families can do to limit the spread of this disease. The most important is to wash your hands frequently," said Cohen.

"You also need to cover your face with coughing or sneezing; stay home if you are sick, and disinfect your work and living areas more frequently."

The most accurate information regarding COVID-19 can be found on the CDC's website, linked below. For specific information related to COVID-19 go to USFK or Eighth Army's COVID-19 pages, also linked below.

If you feel you have been exposed and are showing symptoms please call the USFK hotline at (DSN) 755-2765 or 050-3355-2765.

Note: This is part one of a multi-part series on COVID-19 and its impact on Eighth Army and U.S. Forces Korea.

For more information go to:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Eighth Army

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

World Health Organization

Related Links:

Eighth Army COVID-19 Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: COVID 19

Occupational Safety and Health Administration: COVID-19

USFK COVID-19 Resources

World Health Organization: COVID-19