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Experts and epidemiologists warned us about the inevitability of COVID-19 going pandemic. True enough, on March 11 (1 pm ET), the World Health Organization (WHO) designated it as a pandemic, nearly four months after the first confirmed case in Hubei province of China was detected. (Ref.1) The pronouncement was based on the swift spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV 2) across several countries resulting in a striking exponential increase of COVID-19 cases in just over a couple of weeks. (Ref.2)
And recently, on May 12, the abrupt rise of COVID-19 cases in Europe placed the region as the new center of the pandemic. (Ref.3) Italy tallied 30,000+ confirmed cases, with an estimated 2,500+ deaths (8%) as of publishing. These figures made Italy the second hardest-hit country after China. (Ref.4) At present, there are nearly 8,000 deaths out of the 195,000+ total cases around the world.
Based on the recent epidemiological data, the death rate of COVID-19 has been raised to 3.4% from the initial estimate of 2.0%. (Ref.5) Hence, this makes SARS-CoV-2 infection about 34 times deadlier than the seasonal flu virus, which has a death rate of 0.1%.
Flattening the COVID-19 pandemic case curve
From that moment that COVID-19 was realized as a huge threat, authorities have since been adamant about their campaign against the spread. The “exponential curve” is one thing that has experts worry about. If the current rate is left to chance, then, it is foreseen to escalate to about a hundred million cases by May in the United States alone. (Ref.6) As such, comprehensive policies and protocols are now being implemented, hoping to flatten the curve.
Winning the COVID-19 pandemic battle
Expect social distancing to become a norm, at least, in the coming weeks or so. The present situation calls for mandatory social distancing, lockdowns, and quarantines. The virus spreads rather quickly. What’s more dangerous is that some people could already be harboring the virus but they are not aware of it yet. Symptoms could be mild at first and therefore could be easily construed as nothing serious. Soon, though, as more symptoms appear, things have already gone awry. The disease progressed to a stage where it is already severe, causing tissue injury that is beyond repair. Thus, the risk of transmitting the virus can be very high. This is what social restriction policies want to avert. Social preventive measures could significantly halt the spread when done right. To contain the virus, the transmission must be stopped. Wearing masks and washing hands could mitigate the spread but situations as critical as this call for more comprehensive and drastic preventive measures.
Too high a risk
The more we are restricted and denied of things, the more we seemingly want to go for it. Apparently, it is human nature to defy and test the waters. While we are asked to stay in our home, suddenly we feel a burning urge to want to go outside. But in doing so, we are risking our lives and of others. The success of the fight against COVID-19 is everyone’s success as much as the failure of just one could lead to the failure of all. We have so much to risk if the preventive strategies being imposed upon both locally and globally are not heeded with seriousness and commitment. Either we could be seeing in our lifetime the deaths of millions of people, including those we care so much about — or be one of those who will never get to see another day.
A matter of time
Nearly 80,000 have made a full recovery from COVID-19. A large percentage is from China. (Ref.4) The country’s infection trajectory appears to be leveling off, too. (Ref.7) This could mean that their treatment and quarantine efforts eventually paid off as the situation seems to be way more under control. This also signifies hope. The crisis can be put to an end by making sure that the sick people are given prompt medical attention and that social contact is cut.
In the US, the first week is going to be crucial though, according to Asaf Bitton, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard University and director of Ariadne Labs. The caseload of the US apparently grows at a rate following that of Italy’s. (Ref.8) To veer off from such a trend, self-distancing, lockdown, and self-isolation need to be strongly implemented.
— written by Maria Victoria Gonzaga
Recommended: Read more news and latest scientific research on Coronavirus and COVID-19 here: From The Journals: Coronavirus-Related Publications – BioTechniques (BioTechniques: https://www.biotechniques.com/coronavirus-news/from-the-journals-coronavirus/).
- Davidson, H. (2020, March 13). First Covid-19 case happened in November, China government records show – report. The Guardian; The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/13/first-covid-19-case-happened-in-november-china-government-records-show-report
- McDonnell, T. (2020, March 5). Coronavirus is now technically a “pandemic”—here’s why that matters. Quartz; Quartz. https://qz.com/1813587/is-coronavirus-technically-a-pandemic-does-that-matter/
- WHO announces COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. (2020). Who.Int. https://doi.org/http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/news/news/2020/3/who-announces-covid-19-outbreak-a-pandemic
- Coronavirus Update (Live): 182,716 Cases and 7,173 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Outbreak – Worldometer. (2020). Worldometers.Info. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
- WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 3 March 2020. (2020). Who.Int. https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19—3-march-2020
- Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve.” (2020, March 14). The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/
- Roser, M., Ritchie, H., & Ortiz-Ospina, E. (2013). Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Statistics and Research. Our World in Data. https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus
- Mahbubani, R. (2020, March 17). US has 1 week to enforce social distancing, slow COVID-19 outbreak – Business Insider. Business Insider; Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/us-one-week-enforce-social-distancing-flatten-curve-coronavirus-2020-3