Is enough being done to reduce the spread of Covid-19?
March 12, 2020 • Reading time 2 minutes
We are publishing a regular update to our work on Covid-19. Other posts can be found here.
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The growth rate of infection of Covid-19 has increased from 1.17 to 1.2 in the last day with 134 new cases confirmed. So the Government has advised against elderly people taking cruises while delaying more substantive measures based on behavioural science (one shot at slowing the spread before people become fatigued with being stuck at home)*… This does not feel like enough to mitigate the growth rate of Covid-19 infections. China has reduced the spread of infections significantly since the start of February (just after Chinese New Year) – see chart (the February blip is when the measurement method was changed).
- extreme quarantine, which has been both self-imposed and Government enforced
- enforced requirement to wear face masks in public to stop the spread of disease (as opposed to stopping infection, which is what most people currently wearing masks seem to be trying to achieve)
- coordinated food delivery (all via WeChat)
Here are some excerpts from a WeChat conversation I had with a clinician and friend of Edge that works at the Xi’an University Hospital:
“we are waiting for the epidemic to be over . Xi’an has had 21 days-straight of zero increase of confirmed patients. Things are looking good. I could offer many personal experience if it’s going to be ugly in England. Lockdown is not that bad, at lease covid-19 s not airborne “
“full lock down was initiated from end of Jan, I was supposed to be back in office Feb 22nd, but still working at home. These days I can go to supermarkets, restaurant for take-outs and a few department stores, now it’s more freedom than before. I can tell you that Chinese people are showing tremendous courage and determination.”
“many ECMO machines are borrowed to be use in Wuhan which is the epicenter. I knew because the hospital you visited in 2018 had one, I was familiar with the name and paid attention. For the majority of ordinary people, we were well-educated on do’s and don’ts through TV and one-line channels.”
“Do wear masks and use 75% alcohol for disinfectant ”
The benefits of social distancing are clear from a few other countries like Hong Kong and Singapore – all countries that have experience of dealing with SARS. Needless to say, my view is that more needs to be done as soon as possible to reduce contact between people – even if they are unlikely to get seriously ill themselves (it’s not just about you!).
We have updated our analysis here: www.edgehealth.co.uk/post/covid19
* On the behavioural science point – there is indeed some science about not fatiguing people with action that seems ineffective, particularly when it is a free democracy, but this does seem to change in extreme circumstances (which are by definition rare)