As I am writing this, I should be wrapping up our departure plans and packing suitcases to head back to France for some family business. However, another life form, a virus, decided otherwise.
Many of you, like me, have been spending the last few weeks trying to figure out what is fact vs. fiction about the Covid-19 virus (a.k.a Corona Virus). What precautions and measures do we need to take without falling into the panic buy frenzy?
The situation has not only been fluid but has been escalating with exponential proportions. When I booked our tickets in January I had no idea what was unfolding, first in China and rapidly across the world. The epicentre of the epidemic has now shifted to Europe. In the last 48 hrs, France closed its borders and ordered confinements of its population. Yesterday, Australia announced a ban on all travel to the EU and the Schengen area for the next 30 days under a Level 4 threat.
With my trip now cancelled, I ventured to my local supermarket in an attempt to get some fresh supplies, (since we had focused on clearing up freezer and pantry before our trip). All I was met with were empty shelves and dismayed shoppers trying to grasp what was going on. Most items are now limited to two of the same type per transactions. I praise the decision to limit bulk buys but it clearly came too late. It is also a bit of a joke given the check out attendant offers to bypass the restriction by purchasing the items under a second transaction.
This morning our Prime Minister was stressing the importance of “social distancing”. Personally I prefer to call it “physical distancing”. We are blessed to have mobile technology, high speed internet. This is the time to get closer, virtually, to our families, friends and neighbours. While the grand children cannot go and visit grandparents, they can still keep in touch daily with phone calls, Skype, Facetime and Whatsapp calls. This is a time to show compassion, pull our resources together, show initiative and be innovative.
In that context, I want to share two websites my sister sent me. The first one is from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and shows data about the cases on Covid-19 around the world.
While I do not have medical training, my degree in Biological Sciences taught me the value as well as the pitfalls of data collection. Realistically, confirmed cases are only the tip of the iceberg because:
- The asymptomatic aspect of the virus, means people can be carriers but show no symptoms for many days or weeks
- Similarity of the symptoms with flu means that people might not seek medical advice for several days
- Confirming a case requires testing. Most countries do not have enough test kits. Testing is still very sparse. As testing ramps up, we should expect numbers to increase even further.
The bottom line is that there is a delay between someone being actually infected and being confirmed positive. Over that period they will infect many people.
This brings me to the second article my sister sent me:
I urge you to read that article, and take time to let the data and projection sink in. Pay particular attention to the mortality rates and its drivers. There is some valuable advice on what actions each one of us needs to take now. This is particularly important for business leaders and owners.
No health system in this world including Australia can sustain the onslaught of this epidemic. While it shouldn’t be lethal to children and healthy people below 60 years of age, it’s our ability to carry and spread this disease that we need to stop, and we need to start now.