Coronavirus-Flattening the Curve?

I went to Trinidad & Tobago recently and when our plane landed, a person with a temperature gun was testing each passenger as they disembarked one by one. (A reasonable precaution) considering the outbreak of the Coronavirus was well underway. Upon my return to Toronto, I was flabbergasted that I was able to walk off of a plane, go into a terminal with many other passengers from various countries and use a touch-screen customs declaration computer, collect my luggage and proceed to one exit -all without one sanitary wipe, hand sanitizer station and no-one caring what my temperature was.

Now everything is being cancelled. So what is meant by Flattening the Cornavirus Curve?

Clearly, the ideal goal in containing an epidemic or pandemic is to stop the spread.  However, slowing it down is crucial.  Reducing the number of cases that are active at any particular time, provides doctors, hospitals, police, schools and drug manufacturers the necessary time to respond and prepare without straining the system. There are many hospitals that can function with a reduction of 10 percent in staff, but not with 50 percent off at once.

Some analysts have maintained to let the outbreak occur and get over with it quickly. That is a recipe for disaster, which will cause pointless misery and death. Slowing and spreading out the surmounting cases will save lives.  Thus, the term “Flattening the curve”, keeps society going.

The two curves represent the number of new cases over a time period.  If more people report the virus on a given day, the higher the curve- which means that the virus is spreading quickly. 

A low curve demonstrates that the virus is spreading slower- fewer individuals are being diagnosed with the disease on a given day. Which keeps the curve down- diminishes the rate at which new cases occur- which also prevents straining the limited resources (represented by the dotted line) available to treat it.

The health care system capacity can be compared to a bus that can only hold so many people at once time.  During peak times, that capacity is not enough to handle the amount of people needing the bus, so people have to wait at the bus stop for their turn to ride.  If you stagger work hours, it decreases the rush hour and therefore increases the likelihood that you can get on the bus and even a seat.  Avoiding a surge of coronavirus cases can ensure that anyone who need care will find a hospital.

Disease spread when on person passes it to one or more, who then go on and give it to more people etc. The speed of this depends on many factors, which include how contagious the disease is, how many people are vulnerable and how quickly they get sick. 

The seasonal flu is different than the coronavirus as many people have either full or partial immunity to the flu because they have had it before or were vaccinated against it.  People are more vulnerable to the coronavirus as there is no built-up immunity, therefore it has much more opportunity to spread.  Keeping people apart in time and space with social distancing measure, self-isolation and actual quarantine decreases opportunities for transmission.

Using the bus example again, a packed bus or a packed bus stop – is a great place to spread the virus.  However, if you reduce the number of people at the stop or on the bus, by asking people to work from home or staggering their work hours, enables individuals to stay further apart, limiting the spread of the virus.  That is social distancing in action.

Keeping people farther apart, makes transmission opportunity marginally less likely.  This slows the spread.  I have always been a germaphobe – so this is one extra step, however, I am more aware of my behaviours and surrounding.  I am constantly washing my hands more than usual, and I am wiping down surfaces that may be contaminated.

If people require prescriptions, make sure you have a good supply of prescription or non-prescription medications, just in case shortages happen after the shutdown of Chinese pharmaceutical suppliers. 

There has been speculation whether or not the coronavirus is airborne, like measles. 

The virus travels in droplets, however airborne transmission is plausible- according to a study from scientists at Princeton University, the University of California, Los Angeles and the National Institute of Health. 

The researchers concluded that the virus could remain airborne for up to 3 hours post aerosolization. 

In order for you to be infected, you would need to touch contaminated secretions or be within 6 feet of a sick person who is coughing or sneezing. Studies have investigated how far droplets and spit fly, and that seems to be the agreed number.  Meeting in outdoor spaces, theoretically, could give the virus less chance of spreading.

The length of time Coronavirus survives on surfaces according to the World Health Organization, state that it may stay on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.  Higher temperatures – based on other coronavirus potentially degrade it- however it may not necessarily go away in warmer weather.  The life span varies depending on the type of surface, temperature and humidity.  Bathrooms are a welcoming environment, as coronaviruses can remain viable in cold, moist surfaces for up to nine days.

If someone has coronavirus and you are sharing a home- sharing the same bathroom is not advised.

Apparently in-flight oxygen is of higher quality than the air in your home.  So, if there is an infected person in the front and you are in the back, your risk is zero, because exposure is within 6 feet of an infected person. The World Health Organization says that most modern aircrafts have recirculation systems that recycle up to 50% of cabin air.  The recirculated air is passed through HEPA (High-efficiency particulate air) filters, such as the ones used in hospitals, operating theaters and intensive care units, which trap dust, fungi, bacteria and viruses.

Men tend to me more affected that women and symptoms are more severe.  Estrogen has a protective effect. 

Face masks assist patients from spreading the virus, however they do not protect the healthy.  CDC says they can help as a barrier if a sick person coughs or sneezes. However, most face masks do not filter small particles from the air and don’t prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales.

References

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

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