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Coronavirus Closures Are To ‘Flatten The Curve’ – You Don’t Need To Panic

by : Emily Brown on : 13 Mar 2020 13:26
Coronavirus Closures Are To 'Flatten The Curve' - You Don't Need To PanicCoronavirus Closures Are To 'Flatten The Curve' - You Don't Need To PanicPA Images/Our World In Data

As events get cancelled and schools begin to close across Europe, it’s easy to worry coronavirus is bringing the world to a halt. In reality, though, these measures are a good thing – they’re not a cause for panic. 

In the last few days, companies have implemented work-from-home plans; Disney announced the closure of its theme parks across the world; movie releases have been delayed and sporting events have been called off.

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These are not decisions made lightly. It’s no secret that companies will suffer greatly from the closures and cancellations, as they mean a lack of paying customers and as a result a huge loss of income.

Woman wearing mask amid coronavirus outbreakWoman wearing mask amid coronavirus outbreakPA Images

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is the reason behind these measures, and as reports about those infected continue to fill news feeds it’s all too easy to assume coronavirus is taking down the world, one festival, football game and conference at a time.

However, the reason for these cancellations is not because everyone is infected, or banished to their homes. It’s simply to slow the spread of the virus, or ‘flatten the curve’.

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Government officials and businesses are encouraging these closures with the hope of preventing a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases, as healthcare systems would struggle to deal with a sudden influx of patients.

One person at a football game or festival could be at risk of infecting dozens of others, and in turn they could infect hundreds more. It’s just not a risk that’s worth taking when it could so easily be avoided.

Using information from the World Health Organization (WHO), Our World in Data created a graph that displays exactly why these closures are necessary, pointing out early counter measures are important as health systems can care for more patients when the number of cases is spread out over a long period, rather than peaking in a very short period.

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The site explains:

[The WHO’s] intention is to lower the rate of infection so that the epidemic is spread out over time and the peak demand for the health care system is lower.

While the total number who get infected might not change, the containment measures intend to avoid an outbreak trajectory in which a large number of people get sick at the same time. This is what the visualization shows.

Take a look at the graph here:

Flattening the curve of coronavirusFlattening the curve of coronavirusOur World In Data
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Based on how the virus is behaving, epidemiologists can somewhat predict the amount of cases which are inevitably going to occur. The graph shows that without measures to slow the rate of infection, like the cancellation of big events and encouraging people to work from home, the daily number of cases could spike very quickly.

Though the high spike soon drops, it would result in more cases than the healthcare system would be able to handle, meaning patients would not have access to the care they need.

In comparison, when measures to slow the rate of infection are implemented, the daily number of cases increases much more gradually, in a way that would be more manageable for heathcare systems.

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So, while it might seem frustrating that Coachella has been cancelled, or that you can’t go on a weekend to Disneyland Paris, in reality it’s for the good of the population and our ability to deal with the virus in an effective way.

The WHO explains:

Mass gatherings are highly visible events with the potential for serious public health consequences if they are not planned and managed carefully. There is ample evidence that mass gatherings can amplify the spread of infectious diseases.

The transmission of respiratory infections, including influenza, has been frequently associated with mass gatherings. Such infections can be transmitted during a mass gathering, during transit to and from the event, and in participants’ home communities upon their return.

Thankfully, people are being understanding of the precautions being taken to slow the spread of the virus, and in recent days #FlattenTheCurve and #flatteningthecurve have been trending on Twitter. As well as abiding by the advice offered by government officials regarding big events, people can help by avoiding large crowds where possible.

It’s okay to not panic. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our Coronavirus campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization on Coronavirus, click here.

Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Coronavirus, COVID-19, World Health Organization

Credits

Our World In Data and 1 other
  1. Our World In Data

    Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Research and Statistics

  2. World Health Organization

    Key planning recommendations for Mass Gatherings in the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak