Extraordinary steps are needed to arrest the exponential increase in the number of people infected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the rate for which has been unseen in any previous epidemic.
For individual nations, the challenge is to slow down the spread of the pathogen early on, limiting its impact.
Experts showed that a fast unabated spread of the virus has the potential of crippling the health system of a nation as hospital workers themselves become sick. It may even come to the point that the government would have to choose who lives and who doesn’t.
President Rody Duterte’s administration had taken the right steps at intervention during the early stage of the outbreak.
The detractors were saying that the lockdown using the military and the police was not necessary and a health solution was required.
According to experts, the epidemic curve, a statistical chart used to visualize when and at what speed new cases are reported, could be flattened.
“If you look at the curves of outbreaks, they go big peaks, and then come down. What we need to do is flatten that down,” Anthony Fauci, director of the US-based National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. “That would have less people infected. That would ultimately have less deaths. You do that by trying to interfere with the natural flow of the outbreak.”
The scientists are looking at the Wuhan model after China took the extraordinary step of locking down tens of millions of people days in advance of the Lunar New Year to prevent the virus from spreading around the country.
China’s own critics then said it would have been impossible to slow down a rapidly transmitting respiratory infection by effectively shutting down enormous cities — and possibly counterproductive.
The quarantines, unprecedented in modern times, appear to have prevented explosive outbreaks from occurring in cities outside of Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.
Since then, the spread of the virus in China has slowed to a trickle. South Korea, which has had the third largest outbreak outside of China, also appears to have reversed the trend in the spread of the virus through aggressive actions.
Caitlin Rivers, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said any lessening of the spread will help health systems remain functional.
“Even if we are not headed to zero transmission, any cases that we can prevent and any transmission that we can avoid are going to have enormous impact,” she said. “Not only on the individuals who end up not getting sick but all of the people that they would have ended up infecting… And so, the more that we can minimize it, the better.”
Among the urgent need is to redirect the resources of the nation to assure health workers continue to function by providing them the necessary equipment
The limited powers that Congress approved for Rody will help in stamping out the plague the soonest possible.
The draconian steps taken now that is meant to contain the spread of the virus will save the nation from contending with the bigger problem of total desolation.