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Why the panic about coronavirus?

March 20, 2020 — BarryK

It is just about the only thing on the news, countries isolated, today the Prime Minister has told us that we must always be 2 metres away from other people. There is no toilet paper in the supermarkets, as soon as some comes in, people rush into the shop when it opens and it is gone in minutes.

I understand that we need to take precautions, so as to limit the spread, so that hospital emergency departments don't get overwhelmed. However, we also need to have some perspective.

In 2019, almost 60 million people died

Yep, that many. In fairly peaceful countries, about 90% of those die from old age. We are mortal, just on this planet for a tiny time span:

Many elderly people die from complications from the flue. Death from flue complications is estimated to be as high as 650,000 per year:

So, what about coronavirus, covid-19? 10,400 deaths so far:

So keep some perspective. The elderly are dropping dead all around us, mostly out of sight unless it is a relative, so we are not aware of the scale. The coronavirus has just bumped the tally up a bit.

EDIT 2020-03-21:
Correction, the Prime Minister (of Australia) announced that we need to keep a space of 4 metres squared around us, that is 2x2 metres.

Rereading the above blog post, I may have created the wrong impression. The covid-19 outbreak is serious, and we need to be responding appropriately. But soberly, not panicking.

We all need to be pulling together. Unfortunately, we have narcissistic people who don't care about others. We are advised to stay home if have any cold or flue-like symptoms. It is not the law, only a recommendation, in Australia. Today I travelled by train into the city, to go to one of my favourite restaurants. On the train, someone coughed. After a short time, he coughed again, quite vigorously. I stood up and moved to the other end of the carriage, "upwind". Ha ha, I was sitting there at the top-end of carriage, and some else near me coughed!

Everybody else was just stoically ignoring them. Which is very Aussie, I think.

Was I being excessively paranoid today? Certainly I have a heightened sense of needing to avoid contagion, after being subjected to news about the spread of covid-19 day-after-day on the media.

Sitting in the train on the way home, I was thinking, no wonder that covid-19 is spreading. What would happen to someone in China, if they coughed in public?

Anyway, back onto the statistics. We do need to be alert. The 10,400 deaths is now 11,826, and the curve is accelerating. So although it is minor compared with overall deaths, it may become more of a major player before we have the vaccine. 

Tags: ethos