Countries are having different results with the virus. The growth is linear in some and exponential in others. See the following graph:
To prevent exponential growth, countries must do what South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are doing:
- Containment (Hong Kong closed its border with China. Travel from all hot spots, such as China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy should have been banned since January. We are still taking thousands of flights from them.)
- Banning social gatherings.
- Masks. Most people in Hong Kong wear masks when they go out. This not only reduces the chances of catching the virus, but more importantly, it reduces the number of people that you will infect if you have the virus. During the incubation period before you develop symptoms, you can be infecting others and not know it.
- Aggressive testing.
- Contact Tracing (In addition, South Korea has an app that tells you the locations that all infected people have visited.)
- Quarantine (China is the most aggressive with this, by limiting the times that people can leave their homes.)
- Removal of deterrent of quarantine, such as paying for lost wages, so that people will not break quarantine.
For countries that have not done the above, such as Italy and Iran, the number of cases have grown exponentially.
Many other countries, including the U.S., Canada and many European countries, are not doing the above. The virus will grow exponentially in these countries.
“If the Containment Zone encompasses major air, land, and sea transit points, it is possible that screening procedures could be used but the preferable alternative is to close that entry point.”From WHO Interim Protocol: Rapid operations to contain the initial emergence of pandemic influenza
In January, WHO should have told every country to practise containment, which includes banning travel from China. Instead of doing this, WHO downplayed the situation and praised China’s efforts. In February, WHO issued a statement saying that they are not calling it a pandemic but some dishonest, politically correct phrase.
We have no containment.
This virus is many times worse than SARS or the flu. According to WHO’s website, a pandemic is when a virus spreads around the world. Yet, WHO would not call this a pandemic until today, after the virus has spread to 109 countries:
CDC should have enabled testing of thousands of Americans since weeks ago. There are likely many thousands of Americans (and Canadians) who are infected but we don’t know yet. China and Iran likely have many multiples more infected than they are reporting. Watch the interview of this doctor’s frustration in the CDC and his inability to test:
The other challenge is that governments are caught between a rock and a hard place: saves lives or save their economies. To save lives, they will need to clamp down their people, but this will clamp down their economies. The right thing to do is to save lives, but when they do this, their economies will crater. Many people will lose their lives or many people will lose their jobs and income. It is not a easy choice.
Please practise social distancing. Work at home if you can. Do not shake hands. Avoid social gatherings. There are going to be many long, boring months until they come up with a vaccine.