Coronavirus? My thoughts..

So Covid-19 had reared it’s little coronated head on the Island of Ireland. And the country is ill-prepared for the probability of what’s going to happen.

Here’s a middle of the road scenario based on the current data available. Cases appear to be doubling every ~6 days. 15% or so need hospital care, and about 5% of those needs ICU-level care. Deaths are averaging at about 3.5% at the moment.

Given there’s about 22 cases in Ireland (excluding the North for this one), we can expect the following:

  • March 9th; 22 cases,
  • March 15th; 44 cases,
  • March 21st; 88 cases ,
  • March 27th; 176 cases,
  • April 2nd; 352 cases, with ~50 hospitalisations and 12 deaths
  • April 8th; 704 cases,
  • April 14th; 1408 cases,
  • April 20th; 2816 cases,
  • April 26th; 5632 cases,
  • May 2nd; 11264 cases, with ~1600 hospitalisations and 400 deaths.
  • May 8th; 22528 cases,
  • May 14th; 45056 cases,
  • May 20th; 90112 cases,
  • May 26th; 180224 cases,
  • June 1st; 360448 cases,
  • June 7th; 720896 cases
  • June 13th; 1441792 cases
  • June 19th; 2883584 cases

That’s assuming current exponential growth. In reality the case increases should start to have less new cases by about the middle of May due to a self-limiting transmission (less uninfected people available) and a continuation slowly up to maybe 100 thousand cases by mid summer and maybe 1500 total deaths by then.

That’s a middle-of-the-road back-of-envelope calculation, but based on valid current numbers and trends. It really makes for sobering reading.

The elderly are more heavily affected by this disease, with a 5% chance of death in the over 60s and a 15% chance of death in the over 80s. For healthy adults below 40 the rate is currently 0.1% chance of death which is x10 times the standard winter flu (even including the flu shot for the winter flu).

What we should do individually is to limit our social contacts, minimising contact with people, minimising our own exposure to infection by practicing simple good personal hygiene, minimising touching our faces with our hands without disinfection. We should also limit the exposure to the elderly from children, who appear to be able to transmit the virus without appearing symptomatic ourselves.

The authorities should start the minimising of travel, both internationally and nationally. Sporting fixtures should be without the crowds of fans watching – if the fixtures go ahead at all. Pubs and nightclubs should close for the duration of this epidemic. Parades and marches should not be let go ahead. Public gatherings of more than 500 people should not be organised. If this is done, the rate of transmission will be lower, and the peak numbers at any one time of infected and treatment-seeking people will be lessened, hopefully to levels that our health system can cope with.

If we don’t take strong action in the very near future, we will have a proper national-level emergency to deal with, and a lot of our parents and grandparents will not live to see the next Christmas.

If you think I’m scaremongering or panic-inducing, please look at the north of Italy and see what’s happening there, and realise that there’s very little difference between there and here in our societal habits. A little fear is a good thing, if it can get people to think and to plan. Have a stock of medications to hand, and be prepared to stay at home for up to a few weeks. It’ll hurt, it’ll be terrible, but we should be able to weather this upcoming storm if we do that.

If you think that this is not much worse than the flu, there’s a doctor or two in the hospitals in Bergamo that would like to have a chat with you. Link here: (Google machine translation here)

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