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Why social distancing might last for some time

The stop-start approach

When people start meeting again after isolation, the virus will start spreading, and cases are likely to rise. This may cause a stop-start approach to social distancing to keep infection levels within the bounds of what health services can cope with.

If the virus shows some seasonal variation, intermittent social distancing measures will likely have to be maintained into 2022.

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Why social distancing might last for some time

Why social distancing might last for some time

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200324-covid-19-how-social-distancing-can-beat-coronavirus

bbc.com

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Key Ideas

A lesson from history

Near the end of World War One, the Spanish flu infected over a quarter of the world's population and claimed between 50 and 100 million lives.

During this pandemic, cities around the US were planning parades. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, city chiefs decided to go ahead with their parade, while the city of Saint Louis, Missouri, decided to cancel their parade and to limit public gatherings. A month later, over 10,000 people in Philadelphia had died of Spanish flue, while the fatalities in Saint Louis stayed below 700.

The spread of the new virus

  • If you are infected and continue to socialize as normal, you may pass the virus on to between two and three friends or family members, who could then infect a further 2 - 3 people. In one month, this can lead to 244 other cases, and in two months, it can rise to 59,604
  • A silent transmission - people who have been infected, but don't show any symptoms - can occur in up to 10% of cases. These people may not realize that they need to self-isolate.
  • There is evidence that staying at home and maintaining a safe distance from others can slow the spread.

The aim of social distancing

One of the goals of social distancing is to delay the spread of the virus, so it reaches people more slowly

The idea is to lengthen the time period over which the virus travels through a population and push the peak number of cases back so it appears later. With a lower rate of spreading, less infected people will need urgent care and resources at any given time.

The stop-start approach

When people start meeting again after isolation, the virus will start spreading, and cases are likely to rise. This may cause a stop-start approach to social distancing to keep infection levels within the bounds of what health services can cope with.

If the virus shows some seasonal variation, intermittent social distancing measures will likely have to be maintained into 2022.

Social distancing works

In Italy, different strategies were implemented in two towns, Bergamo and Lodi. In Lodi, strict action was taken two days after the first case of the new disease was detected. Bergamo took two weeks to respond. In the first two weeks, both towns had around 800 cases. One week later, that number rose to 2,300 in Bergamo, while Lodi had half that amount.

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The State Of The Virus

Life around the world is changing dramatically as we practise social distancing, staying away from our friends and avoiding going to our favourite places, or even being unable to work. We already l...

Uncertain Time Frame

Top experts say the virus is going to be circulating for a year or two and can keep infecting people, causing outbreaks until there is a vaccine or treatment to stop it. If we drop the unpleasant and strict measures, the virus outbreak can know no boundaries or limits of infections. It won’t simply go away in two weeks.

Guidelines by WHO

  • Wash your hands regularly, and for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of it properly.
  • Clean and disinfect doors, handles and objects that are touched all the time.
  • Contact a health professional if you have symptoms; fever and a dry cough are most common.
  • DON’T touch your face.
  • DON’T go out of your home.

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The pandemic

According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations.

Declaring a pandemic

When declaring a pandemic, the World Health Organization has the last word. There is no threshold, such as a certain number of deaths or infections, or a number of countries affected, that needs to be met.
And once a pandemic is declared, it becomes more likely that community spread will eventually happen, and governments and health systems need to ensure they are prepared for that.

Dealing with the current pandemic

Although a pandemic has been declared, there is no need for global panic. Panic would defeat the purpose of trying to raise awareness.
It is still urging countries to detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people.

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A History Of Pandemics

  • A Pandemic is defined as the proliferation of a disease over the whole country or the entire world.
  • Diseases and illnesses have troubled humanity since the earliest days, but ...

Quarantined

  • The original use of the word Quarantine was the act of anchoring a ship arrived in Venice, Italy, for 40 days before landing.
  • Infectiousness of any disease is measured by the reproduction number (R0, or R naught). For example, Smallpox has an R0 of 6 whereas Measles has an R0 of 16. 
  • Vaccination, if available, and herd immunity can curb the spread of disease.
  • Big cities, with exploding population and traffic, can lead to the rapid spread of any infectious disease.