During the SARS outbreak (2002-03) I was in engineering college and have no memories of it. Also, TBH I don’t remember much about the deadly Swine Flu which killed over 200,000 people worldwide.
If I think about it, I guess having not to read/think about critical events like these isn’t all good as it could lead you to underestimate their severity.
As I write this post, Coronavirus cases worldwide have crossed 115000 and has killed over 4200 people. As per WHO, Covid-19 is close to a pandemic
The count of confirmed cases in India stands at 62 as of 10:20 AM today. (2 deaths?)
It is anybody’s guess on how this graph would look from here.
PS: It would be fair to assume the actual numbers are significantly higher
The gif above conveys that bulk of the damage from COVID-19 can be avoided if we are able to spread out the occurrence of confirmed cases just around the capacity of our healthcare systems to handle. Anywhere in the world where that hasn’t happened has lead to massive damage to human life (Earlier Wuhan and now Italy).
No one would argue that health care infrastructure of India is capable to handle a massive outbreak like Wuhan (or Italy) and knowing the innumerable inefficiencies in our systems it is super scary to think how easily things can turn out of hand.
Some of the steps the government is taking to prevent an outbreak
- Increasing Testing Labs (52 as of now)
- Closing Schools, and Colleges (Kerala has also ordered restrictions on Public Events Cinemas too, so has J&K)
- Increasing Screening at Airports, Advising on Self Quarantine and Suspending Visas to affected countries (8 countries so far)
- Having Awareness Messages as Ringtones
- Kerala Govt is working on Increasing bandwidth and Improving internet connectivity.
While government is doing it’s bit (and we can debate how effective they are at it), what might be more important for us is what we do to stay safe.
- 20% of confirmed cases have severe infections, 10% require ICU admission and up to 4% can die. Read here
- With SARS and MERS survivors are reported to have had long term respiratory issues. Read here
- Each new case infected 2.5 other people on average in the early stages of the epidemic. Read here
- No Vaccines for the disease and are likely to be available by early 2021.
- Re-occurence is possible. There are reports of people treated getting infected again
“Individual precaution does not scale to collective precaution…. Hence one must panic individually in order to avoid systemic problems.” – Nassim Taleb.
I feel super anxious these days, maybe because I have old parents and a young kid, or maybe it’s just me being me.
I guess the standard bell curve distribution holds true in this case too. While a smaller percentage would either be operating with minimal concerns/precautions as if nothing has changed (Holi toh khelenge hi) or taking extreme measures to stay safe, the majority would be split between worrying about the spread of virus and trying to make a living/lead normal life.
At a personal level, I’m trying to make a switch from B to C to the extent possible.
(Avoiding malls/gym/metros to begin with) and desperately trying to convince rest of my family.
Things we can and must do
- Convince ourselves that the risk is real. Read this
- Avoid crowded places
- Ensure personal hygiene
- Try to reduce exposure to unknown people. places
- Wear Masks, Use Santizers
- Stock up essentials?
While this might appear as fear mongering or unnecessary panic to some, the way I’d like to think here would be in terms of Unforeseen Risks.
Risk is complicated, which is why we’re not great at dealing with it. It’s more than just something bad happening. How risky something is depends on whether its target is prepared for it.
“Risk is what’s left over when you think you’ve thought of everything.”
Additional Reads (Will keep updating this list)
- Systematic Risk of Pandemic
- Why Does Soap Work So Well on Viruses
- Understanding pandemics: What they mean, don’t mean, and what comes next with the coronavirus
- FAQ’s by Harvard Health
Videos & Podcasts (Will Update Soon)