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Coronavirus Public Service Announcement

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I think everyone knows by now that we have a pandemic on our hands in the form of the Coronavirus.

So as a responsible member of the community, I am doing my bit to make sure the message gets out there and is heard.

This afternoon, the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison announced mandatory 14-day self-quarantine measures for ALL travellers coming into Australia, in the latest government initiative to contain the virus.

Unfortunately my opinion is that it is too late for containment.

This is because the R0 (“R-naught” is a reproductive measure of infectivity) of the virus sits around 2.2 – meaning that one infected person infects roughly 2.2 other persons.

This is why you see infected cases in graphs like these:

It’s called an exponential curve.

That’s right, exponential in the sense of a multiplier effect (incidentally how compound interest works as well, but that’s for another day).

So I’m sorry to say, it is too late for us here in Aus to avoid it.

But we can do something about it.

And that’s to make sure we don’t follow Italy.

Why?

Because the Italians, unfortunately, have been ab-so-loot-ly smashed by this virus.

Chiefly because their health care system cannot handle the stress of the sudden spike in cases.

Hospitals are at bursting point, entire regions decimated and the local population in lock-down.

I read some news articles and it’s shocking to see how badly they’ve been blindsided:

“Professor Grasselli’s job has been to coordinate intensive care units in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, where doctors are having to make difficult choices about which patients can access the health system’s finite resources”.

And what about this for a headline?

Italy may abandon over-80s to their fate as crisis grows

The over-stretched healthcare system may explain why the mortality rate in Italy of 7.1% is much higher than the WHO mortality estimate of 3.4%.

What Can We Learn?

I think the main goal right now, is to lessen the impact to our healthcare system.

Here let me explain by way of this graphic:

My friend Egg (not his real name, so don’t worry Tom) sent this to me and I think it is the most critical aspect of this pandemic.

In summary, the orange curve is Italy, you will see that a substantial portion sits wayyyy above the “Health Service Capacity” line.

This is why their system is stretched to breaking point – it’s not equipped to handle the sheer volume of cases.

What you would want to see is the blue curve, a smoother albeit longer-run in which the infections linger but the healthcare system can handle it.

How?

And this is why preventative measures are so important.

Social distancing in the form of staying at home, working from home, maintain at last 2 metres apart when in public.

Washing hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

Frequently clean and disinfect common surfaces and objects.

What’s Next?

I’m bracing myself for more cases this coming week in Australia, and of course wondering how bad the US will get as well.

Remember when I said earlier infection rates are exponential? Well, this week and next should be when shit gets real and expect the media to go into another gear.

It’s going to be ugly.

Final Thoughts

I must admit that the impact of the Coronavirus has caught me offside. Certainly in the short-term, I did not expect it to have this big of an effect globally.

And sometimes the lines between make-believe and real-life is wayyyy too blurred.

By this I mean MrsFrugalSamurai and I watched the movie Contagion last night.

Now that movie is bloody scary.

It’s basically about a virus… evolved from bats (and pigs)… that gets transmitted to Gwyneth Paltrow and infects 1 in 12 people around the world… with a 20% mortality rate.

I’ll leave you to guess what happens next.

And here’s another example on blurred lines.

One of the smartphone games I used to play is Plague Inc.

Which is basically you playing as a virus, trying to infect and kill as many people on the planet – sound familiar?

The most distressing thing about that game, is that through time, the virus can evolve and you get to choose how it evolves.

From resistance to heat, to deciding how it’s transmitted, to the changing symptoms – all the while racing against the WHO as they find a cure – it’s downright eerie how realistic it is.

I am HOPING that these are make-believe only.

Otherwise… the gun store and supermarket will be very popular destinations.

So come on people.

Let’s work together and get through this!

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