We are facing a horrific global crisis with the rapidly accelerating spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. This post provides information on the serious of the situation.
First of all, an article on why we need to act immediately – and how.
Sylvia Stringhini, an epidemiologist, says on Twitter: “This is by far the best read on #covid19 #coronavirus, with a list of suggestions of what should be done, and an important reminder that at the number of cases/population that we see in most Western countries, Whuan was already in lockdown.“
The article begins: “The coronavirus is coming to you.
It’s coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly.
It’s a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.
When it does, your healthcare system will be overwhelmed.
Your fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways.
Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die.
They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies.
The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today.
That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now.”
Next, an article on why the UK government’s strategy is so different from every other country:
Basically, the advice comes from what’s been classed the “Nudge Unit” headed by David Halpern and his ‘behavioural insights team’. This is the same unit that advised David Cameron to forego a sugar tax and ‘nudge’ supermarkets to ‘nudge’ customers into buying healthier things by not having sweets near the tills. WHO, based on peer-reviewed studies advises that a sugar tax is one of the most effective measures against obesity. Needless to say, obesity rates in the UK aren’t going down.
So when Public Health England talks about relying on models and science, They’re relying on models by Halpern’s nudge unit, not on evidence painstakingly collected by the World Health Organisation nor on peer-reviewed studies – hence no coronavirus tests for the U.K. government despite Nadine Dorries testing positive.
The UK’s population, it appears, is effectively being used for an experiment to test whether this Halper’s behavioural science modelling will help control a deadly epidemic. Judging by the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases, the signs are not good.
News from Italy
Here is an account from Bergamo in Italy of how desperate the situation is over there – and at the current spread of the virus in the UK, this is what we have to look forward to in a few short weeks.
“I am writing to you from Bergamo, Italy, at the heart of the coronavirus crisis. The news media in the US has not captured the severity of what is happening here. I am writing this post because each of you, today, not the government, not the school district, not the mayor, each individual citizen has the chance, today to take actions that will deter the Italian situation from becoming your own country’s reality. The only way to stop this virus is to limit contagion. And the only way to limit contagion is for millions of people to change their behavior today.
If you are in Europe or the US you are weeks away from where we are today in Italy.
I can hear you now. “It’s just a flu. It only affects old people with preconditions”
There are 2 reasons why Coronavirus has brought Italy to it’s knees. First it is devastating – when people get really sick they need weeks of ICU – and, second, because of how fast and effectively it spreads. There is 2 week incubation period and many who have it never show symptoms.
When Prime Minister Conte announced last night that the entire country, 60 million people, would go on lock down, the line that struck me most was “there is no more time.” Because to be clear, this national lock down, is a hail mary. What he means is that if the numbers of contagion do not start to go down, the system, Italy, will collapse.
Why? Today the ICUs in Lombardy are at capacity – more than capacity. They have begun to put ICU units in the hallways. If the numbers do not go down, the growth rate of contagion tells us that there will be thousands of people who in a matter of a week? two weeks? who will need care.
What will happen when there are 100, or a 1000 people who need the hospital and only a few ICU places left?
On Monday a doctor wrote in the paper that they have begun to have to decide who lives and who dies when the patients show up in the emergency room, like what is done in war. This will only get worse.
There are a finite number of Doctors, nurses, medical staff and they are getting the virus.
They have also been working non-stop, non-stop for days and days. What happens when the drs, nurses and medical staff are simply not able to care for the patients, when they are not there?
And finally for those who say that this is just something that happens to old people, starting yesterday the hospitals are reporting that younger and younger patients – 40, 45, 18, are coming in for treatment.
You have a chance to make a difference and stop the spread in your country. Push for the entire office to work at home today, cancel birthday parties, and other gatherings, stay home as much as you can.
If you have a fever, any fever, stay home. Push for school closures, now. Anything you can do to stop the spread, because it is spreading in your communities – there is a two week incubation period – and if you do these things now you can buy your medical system time.
And for those who say it is not possible to close the schools, and do all these other things, locking down Italy was beyond anyone’s imagination a week ago.
Soon you will not have a choice, so do what you can now.
As of March 12th, these are the latest figures from Italy, again from epidemiologist Sylvia Stringhini:
“No sign of truce from the Italian outbreak, 15K cases on March 12th, of which 52% hospitalized (15% in ICU). Crude fatality rate 6.7%, explained by many reasons including health system close to collapse. #COVID19#coronavirus social distancing measures take some time to work.”
So that’s what we’re up against. The next posts will detail solidarity and mutual initiatives that are springing up quickly in Italy, the United States and the UK.