What can we do to flatten the coronavirus curve?
WHAT IS THE CURVE FLATATING?
The course of an epidemic is determined by a variable called the virus reproduction rate, which is the number of additional cases that will lead to each new case. If this rate is high, the number of cases will increase sharply before beginning to decrease (due to the lack of new people to infect). This happens when measures to slow the spread of the virus are not enough, so there is likely to be a huge jump in infections in a short period of time. But with adequate intervention, both at the government and personal levels, the reproduction rate can be kept low, therefore the curve is smoother.
The steps we take now, individually and as a community, will determine the path of the # COVID19 epidemic. This in turn will determine how many lives are lost. It’s not just about protecting yourself; it’s about protecting the most vulnerable among us
CRUDE FLATTENING GROSS CURVE FOR DISEASE MANAGEMENT
Flattening the curve is essential: it would mean slower growth in cases, or extending the number of cases over a longer period of time, applying prevention methods so that the steep mountain of cases “ squashes ” on a further hill soft. Although Covid-19 appears to be more infectious than the common flu and has a higher mortality rate, appropriate intervention can make a significant difference, as evidenced by the difference in the pattern of spread of the virus in several countries.
It is only a matter of time before Covid-19 reaches countries with much weaker health systems than China, South Korea, the United States or Europe. When it does, the death rate may increase due to lack of access to critical care facilities for the most severe cases.
However, in the absence of proper intervention, the outbreak will peak very quickly, infecting more people than the healthcare system is able to treat simultaneously, meaning that severe cases will not receive the treatment they need and more deaths.
The goal is to “flatten” the curve or delay the outbreak from reaching its peak so that health systems are not overloaded. To do this, governments should limit travel, national and international, and restrict mass gatherings to more effectively isolate infected people. But people can also help by washing their hands frequently, coughing or sneezing into their elbows, and avoiding crowds. If you feel sick, even with mild symptoms, stay away from others as much as possible and contact a doctor or hospital. For people age 60 and older and people with chronic medical conditions (the two groups considered most vulnerable to severe pneumonia by Covid-19), the CDC has released a new guide to “avoid the crowds as much as possible.”
Furthermore, the disease becomes more difficult to manage when health professionals become ill when they try to manage the peak in cases; your well-being is therefore essential.
Personal action, rather than government action, in western democracies may be the most important issue. Self-isolation, seeking medical advice remotely unless symptoms are severe, and social estrangement is key
THE THREE PHASES OF AN EPIDEMIC
In Phase I, the first cases are reported. Several nations are still in this phase. Phase I is when the disease is easiest to contain. Identifying infected people and isolating them while tracking down people they have come into contact with is critical. Staying in Phase I long enough for a vaccine to emerge is ideal, but almost impossible without extreme measures, such as general international travel bans.
In Phase II, early containment efforts failed to keep up with the rapid spread of the disease. Many infected people have spread the disease by traveling or going to work. In countries like Italy and Iran, there has been an increase in new cases, which has put great pressure on their limited health resources.
The goal in Phase II is to stop all human-to-human transmission of the disease before it spreads to everyone. Italy and South Korea have now implemented all social distancing measures to reduce the rate at which people become infected in an attempt to flatten the curve.
Mitigation strategies can delay the peak of this next wave of cases, so the volume of cases may decrease further as we plan to build capacity, but there is no time to waste. The role of politicians now is to support the experts.
In Phase III, everyone is infected or the outbreak is controlled with a vaccine. But the world is still at least a year away from a vaccine.
However, China has managed to return from Phase III to Phase I with dramatic measures to manage the disease.
Source: CDC, The Spinoff, media reports.