Social distancing is key to ‘flatten the curve’ to fight the coronavirus pandemic –Stay home to save lives

Since emerging from Wuhan, China, in late December 2019, the coronavirus has spread to more than 180 countries. The outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization-WHO. To date, it has infected over 380,000 people across the globe with more than 16,000 deaths as of March 23, 2020.

The WHO has repeatedly called on all countries to implement a comprehensive approach to slowing down transmission and flattening the curve.

This approach is saving lives and buying time for the development of vaccines and treatments.

To stop the rapidly spreading coronavirus, health officials have instructed the public to practice social distancing, self-isolate and quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic and it’s crucial that everyone does their part.

“Every single person” in this province needs to stay home and practice strict social distancing to help keep people alive, urges the president of the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA).

Critical care services could be overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases in a few weeks “unless we all act now,” said Anthony Dale, OHA president and CEO.

“This is not a drill. This is the single biggest public health emergency in Ontario’s history,” said Dale.

“People must take this seriously. Think about others. Don’t think only about yourself.”

What is Social distancing?

Social distancing is staying home, avoiding crowds, reducing close human-to-human contact with people outside of your household, and refraining from touching one another.

Although living like that can be uncomfortable and might be frightening but it’s important for the greater good. This measure is believed to help ‘flattening the curve’ of coronavirus infections, a key tactic for cutting the number of potential deaths in the country.

What is flattening the curve?

The curve refers to the projected number of new coronavirus cases expected to hit over a period of time. A steep rise of coronavirus infections results when there are no measures to slow the spread of infection and the virus is spreading quickly; some people won’t get the medicare they need, and the number of deaths is likely to increase. With measures such as social distancing, self-isolation, quarantine, restrict travel, the closing of non-essential businesses, work or school from home, the curve is a more gradual uptick of cases with the same number of people get infected, but without overburdening the health-care system at any one time.

The idea of flattening the curve is to stagger the rate of coronavirus cases over a longer period so that people have better access to health-care and hopefully save more lives.

The curve was shared by Drew Harris, a population health analyst at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, on Twitter, adapted from Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC). COVID-19 control measures “may only delay cases, not prevent. However, this helps limit surge and gives hospitals time to prepare and manage.” Harris said in his tweet.

The curve summarizes the importance of taking measures to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

While flattening the curve may not be able to reduce the number of people who get infected with COVID-19, it ensures that the number of people dealing with it any one time will not turn into a spike, causing massive issues for our health professionals who are already stretched to their limits.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has gone from asking to pleading with Canadians to follow public health guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. In his address Monday, March 23, 2020, he warned that stiff enforcement measures may be imposed if people continue to engage in behaviour that puts lives at risk or simply put not following health guidelines such as social distancing.

“If you choose to ignore the advice, you’re not just putting yourself at risk, you’re putting others at risk,” Trudeau said Monday.

On the same day, Ontario Premier Doug Ford ordered all non-essential businesses to shut down for at least two weeks effective midnight of March 24, 2020, in the battle against the coronavirus outbreak. “We will and must take all the steps to slow the spread of COVID-19,” the premier said.  

Everyone can help flatten the curve to fight COVID-19.

As of March 23, 2020, at 11:00 pm, the total cases in Canada surpasses 2000 mark.

Source: WHO, CDC, Health Canada

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