Although a lot remains unknown there are some things we DO know that mean we need a coordinated PLAN from Governments and NOW!
- The numbers are bad because the new virus has no immune barrier to prevent spread, unlike influenza which comes up against herd immunity and vaccination every year.
- The real data is worse than what we know, especially for developing countries. Also, China now is not reporting lab positive but symptom free cases.
- It probably spreads like the common cold (see graphic below from nyt.com) – through touching, being coughed or sneezed on, or being close to someone who has symptoms, such as fever cough and difficulty breathing.
- It may not spread from anyone who is not at all sick, but symptoms in some may be mild, or they could just lie about it.
- Primarily it will be the KIDS that spread it. Healthcare workers with young families face a double risk, or triple if they care for elderly relatives as well.
- If after 14 days from possible or real exposure you are clear, it is unlikely you will get it – thus the period of quarantine.
- Most people who die (fatal in less than 3%, perhaps a lot less, of those infected) have some sort of prior illness, but not all.
- Avoiding unwell people and hand-washing are first line of defence.
- Ordinary masks are a minor help and should not be bought or sold at big profits – high prices may lead people to think that they are more useful than 2 hours or so of droplet protection that they provide.
- Unless you also wear eye goggles and an N95 respirator mask, and clean hands frequently, and avoid touching face when mask comes off, no mask is really any help at all.
- Full protection (antiviral masks, N95, goggles, suits, shields) for frontline staff needs to be provided by government and soon. Where is the stockpile of these?
- A vaccination is probably more than 12 months from being widely available. Until then, quarantine for 14 days or more will be necessary, unless it overwhelms society and we move to response in community, in which case there will likely be mass casualties.
- If there are large numbers falling ill, in the thousands, Australian hospitals will be overwhelmed and the governments need to tell us very soon what the plans are, if the ED’s, negative pressure rooms, and ventilated beds are suddenly being used at capacity.
- See the WHO Situation reports for latest stats.
Image credit : nyt.com