We have already witnessed a three and half months long period of Coronavirus disease or COVID-19, caused by a new Coronavirus. The pandemic nearly started before the beginning of English calendar (Jan, 2020) in Wuhan, China and has even seen the new year of Nepalese calendar (Baisakh, 2077). During this period, around 2 million people have already been infected in more than 210 countries and territories of the world. It’s really heartbreaking to know that more than 1,34,000 people have already lost their life to this pandemic. Today, COVID-19 has plagued every sector from economy to daily life in the world.
COVID-19 is transmitted primarily through droplets released during sneezing or coughing. The infection can also be acquired by touching the infected surfaces like hand, door knob, cash notes, etc. It is estimated that an infected person can transmit the virus to 2-4 new healthy individuals. Because the virus spread so quickly from human to human, the new cases are adding up rapidly in every country. Since there are no vaccines or effective treatment available yet, the best way to remain safe is to prevent from catching the virus.
We will explore a bit scientifically on the basis of some graphs.
Source: CDC/ Harvard Medical School
Let’s start with a simple question- What happens when we fail to follow the preventive measures timely during a pandemic like COVID-19? The answer is short and straight forward- we will see a huge surge in number of cases in a very short period of time. The epidemic curve- the curve showing the distribution of cases with time, achieves its peak faster and higher. We have to understand that every health care system has certain capacity to hold or treat patients. Even the best systems also have certain limitations. This means there may be enough doctors, nurses, beds, medical equipment, tests, etc. But the system cannot be perfect to such a level that it can manage when there is an influx of patient from every family in a village or city.
Even the world superpower like the US and European giants like the UK, France, Italy, Spain, etc. are going through the hardest battle against COVID-19. We have seen there is an enormous pressure on the health systems of these countries too. There is a huge flow of patients to the hospitals every day. There has been a shortage of health professionals to look after patients and the medical supplies are running out too fast. The health systems which are the best and perfect other times have failed to prove so in this pandemic period, even they are working at the fullest efficiency.
This time is a kind of tough examination of patience and response of every citizen of Nepal too. The more every one of us strictly adhere to COVID-19 prevention guidelines, the less suffering we will observe. We must act sincerely owing to very fragile health system of our country. We have limited health infrastructures that include hospitals, diagnostic labs and kits, medical equipment and health professionals (doctors, nurses and experts). So, the preventive measures like respiratory hygiene etiquettes and social distancing behaviors must be strictly implemented by each of us.
The respiratory hygiene etiquettes include washing hands frequently with soap and water, avoiding touching the face (mouth, nose, eyes) with hands and using tissue or bent elbow while sneezing or coughing. While social distancing includes limited travel, avoiding the crowd and staying at home. It has already been 23 days that Nepal is also locked down as a strategy to prevent the spread of deadly virus. However, COVID-19 cases have started popping up in different places of Nepal since March 23, a day before the lock down started. The number of cases have reached 16 as of April 15, 2020.
The earlier mentioned practices actually help to slow down the development of new cases in coming days. When the number of cases starts to be lesser than previous day, this indicates the epidemic curve is flattening. This actually allows the hospitals and health care facilities to manage the influx of patients, thus preventing the overwhelming of our medical capacity. Let’s play our roles responsibly to “Flatten the Coronavirus Curve” in 2077. When we defeat the pandemic, we can celebrate togetherness happily throughout the year and life.
About the author:
Dr. Sirjan Bastola
BVSc, MVSc, MMedSc
Science & Editorial Team