Now officially designated a pandemic, controlling Covid-19 has reached a critical juncture. Experts say contai…Read More
NEW DELHI: Now officially designated a pandemic, controlling Covid-19 has reached a critical juncture. Experts say containment measures are effectively futile in many countries; the focus must shift now to halting the spread or “flattening the curve”. Governments must now ensure the number of cases doesn’t rise so rapidly that our healthcare systems are unable to cope. A look at some countries that have managed to flatten their curves and others that are struggling.
Rate of spread more important than number of cases
On March 10, a panel of experts convened at the University of California, San Francisco, to assess the Covid-19 threat. The conclusions were grim: containment measures in many countries are unlikely to be effective anymore.
The only option is to “flatten the curve” or slow down the rate of spread so healthcare systems aren’t overburdened. If not, many countries will have more patients than available testing kits, hospital beds and ICU units. Doctors and nurses are at the greatest risk of contracting the virus unless the rate of spread is controlled.
Flattening the curve will also buy time for researchers to develop a vaccine.
Read also: Which countries are fighting Covid-19 better than others?
What ‘doubling time’ says about disease management
Doubling time, in the context of the coronavirus, is the amount of time needed for the number of cases to double. It gives an idea of the rate at which the infection is spreading.
A longer doubling period means more time to test and treat people with the limited resources available. Many countries have managed to flatten their curves. China, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong have raised their doubling times to a week or more, making the disease far easier to manage.
Flattening the curve was achieved by locking down public spaces, closing schools, cancelling conferences and sporting event, and on an individual level washing hands with soap regularly and avoiding gatherings, among other measures.
Source: Datawrapper, Our World In Data