Coronavirus curve: Why slowing the outbreak is just as critical as stopping it

Australia must take greater measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Australia must take greater measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Photo: TND

The Morrison government has its eyes set on halting the coronavirus outbreak – but slowing the rate of new cases is just as important.

If the number of infections were to keep rising dramatically, the burden on health care providers would become unmanageable, a startling new graph from the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has shown.

Doctors, hospitals and other medical providers can only handle so much at any given time without becoming overwhelmed, meaning slowing down the rate of infections – not just in the world’s hardest-hit countries – is critical to avoid more infections and deaths.

The horizontal line drawn through the graph shows the point at which America’s health system would reach its capacity.

Slowing the virus’ is just as essential as eradicating it. Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If, in a short period of time, doctors see an upsurge in the number of people returning positive test results for the coronavirus, they would be stretched far beyond their capacity and there won’t be enough test kits, medicine, and hospital beds, for example, to meet the needs of patients.

That’s a major reason why doctors in Australia have been calling for authorities to urgently impose similar strategies to those in Italy, where 60 million citizens remain under lockdown.

Or, at the very least, advise people to avoid gathering in public spaces and even initiate limits on how many people can assemble as they don’t want to see a significant rise in hospital admissions for coronavirus infections.

The sharp curve indicates a rapidly spreading virus where great numbers of people contract COVID-19 in a short space of time.

To flatten the curve, the virus must spread at a much slower rate, meaning there will be fewer people diagnosed with the virus over time.

For that to happen, precautionary measures must be taken to diminish the rate at which new cases occur and prevent overtaxing the finite resources available to treat the virus.

It’s especially important in places that don’t have as many cases to ensure the virus does not start to spread at a rapid rate.

Even in Pennsylvania, where there are 22 cases of the coronavirus, lieutenant governor John Fetterman is calling for local officials to take guidance from the federal health authority about slowing the virus’ spread by “flattening the curve”.

“It’s like stopping a pack of matches from lighting by the other half, from the first three that are firing off,” Mr Fetterman told local news station Action News 4.

“You have no reason to panic, but reason to be prepared – and to understand some of these changes and steps and cancellations that are going to be happening, even though you may not have any documented case in your county at the moment.”

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