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Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Flattening the curve isn't the end of Covid-19, just the beginning

After initially being too blase about Covid-19 (thinking it was safely restricted to just China), countries swiftly ramped up a series of restrictions to try to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as it spread across the globe. At a huge economic and social cost. But now that several countries have succeeded in 'flattening the curve', many countries are already looking at easing restrictions (some prematurely - such as the US). That may be sensible in countries that are islands (or island continents) and have closed their borders (such as Australia and New Zealand) and have reduced the spread of Covid-19 to a handful of new cases per day (so 100% contact tracing may be feasible), but it seems a recipe for disaster in countries that are still detecting thousands of new cases each day, even it that rate of spread is constant and no longer increasing exponentially. After all, although the 2,314,621 confirmed Covid-19 cases reported in the WHO Sitrep 91 seems to be a large number, it is only 0.03% (!) of the world's population. Which means that the other 99.97% of people worldwide (essentially everyone) still has no immunity from Covid-19, and we are still months (or years) away from more effective treatments for those seriously ill from Covid-19, or a mass-produced (and effective and long-lasting) vaccine.

So, unless easing restrictions is done *very* carefully, and with massive amounts of continual testing and monitoring, and with governments ready and prepared to bring back restrictions as needed (which might be more difficult after the populace has been through one round of restrictions and was told things are getting better), things could go very bad (again) very quickly.

And don't forget that being tested and found negative simply means they were (probably) virus-free at the time of testing. They are still at risk of catching (and spreading) the virus after the test was done. Having tested negative last week doesn't mean you might not have been exposed since, and be currently asymptomatically spreading the virus...

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