DO NOT PANIC!
But don’t travel! Don’t gather in crowds! Don’t shake hands! WOW, in three months since the first case of a sore throat, cough and mild fever due to a new flu-like virus, the world has gone mad right? Right! Is this response rational seeing the normal flu has killed huge numbers more in the same time period? Well, ahh, yes actually.
Thing is, the new coronavirus (COVID-19) is an additional disease burden, it doesn’t replace the old flu, it adds to it. So anyone who is vulnerable, (like our grandparents and elderly friends, or the millions of people with asthma, chronic lung diseases like cystic fibrosis or even smokers, diabetics or those living in polluted cities where the air quality is poor), is at risk of dying from this disease if it takes hold in their lungs.
The Spanish Flu back in 1918 killed 20-50 million people, however many were soldiers living in horrible conditions and medical care in war torn countries was poor. The 1957 Asian Flu killed a million or so people and the 1968 Hong Kong Flu up to 4 million.
What we have now that we didn’t have in 1918, 1957 or 1968 is the internet and instant incessant media. This is the Good the Bad and the Ugly. The good is that as a global community we can respond quickly to news and advice about the risks of travel and avoiding crowds. The bad is that we get very anxious and worried about what is going on, insecure, scared and frightened. The ugly is when we see a Youtube clip of two women literally fighting over toilet paper in a supermarket. OMG.
Additionally, we now have far better general and intensive health care and the ability to save the lives of those who get the severe pneumonia from the virus. Well that IS a positive isn’t it? Yes, and maybe. You see, we only have a small and limited number of ventilator machines (those machines that can breath for us if we can’t) and once they have a human attached to them, well, there is no room for more.
What the travel bans and bans on public gatherings is ALL about is trying to reduce the peak number of people who may need these machines at any one time because there isn’t enough for everybody and the last thing anyone wants is for doctors to be deciding who is more important to put on the last machine in your city. Do we take a 70 yo man off the machine and let him die and put a 30 yo on it? Where is the line going to be when that happens and what an awful discussion it’s going to be in the hospital when the doctor tells you that your grandmother is being detached from the machine that is keeping her alive because the hospital administrators mother is being given priority. OUCH.
Health care systems are better, but typically they are always and already stretched to cope in normal circumstances. If we fill up the intensive care units with COVID-19 victims then where do the heart attack and emergency surgery and car accident victims go?
One last thing about little nasty COVID-19 that is different. It survives up to 9 days outside the body on a surface e.g. bathroom bench or public transport rail. When I read that my reaction was “no way, you’re kidding, how can we stop this thing then?” The normal FLU and colds can only live for 1-24 hours outside the body, that’s a huge difference. So we CAN’T stop it spreading but we CAN slow it down to reduce the rush on the ventilators in intensive care which WILL SAVE LIVES.
PLEASE DON’T TRAVEL BY AIR ESPECIALLY FOR A HAIR TRANSPLANT
YOU CAN GET A WORLD-CLASS PROCEDURE DONE IN MELBOURNE
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