There are many questions unanswered regarding the coronavirus:
– How do we contact it?
– What is the incubation period?
– What are the symptoms? (as people describe various symptoms or no symptomatology at all)
– How long is the virus active in humans?
– When can an infected person contaminate others?
– When does an infected person test positive?
– Do we become immune after recovery?
It has been suggested that the coronavirus has an incubation period between 7 to 14 days, but the small number of recovered cases over the past 3 months and the pattern of spread seems to suggest a different picture altogether.
In China the epidemic started somewhere in Nov and it was made public at the end of Dec 2019. They imposed a strict lockdown (blocking people’s doors by welding from the outside apparently) on 23rd January and had the peak of the outburst 5 weeks later (and around 3 months since it started), on 1st March when the number of active cases (a little over 40K) equaled the number of recovered cases (a little over 40K). Since then, in 4 weeks China has added around 1,528 new cases (some imported cases from abroad that enter quarantine automatically), and 400 new deaths, reaching today 81,554 infections and 3,312 deaths. Even today at 4 weeks since its peak, China maintains strict control although it has relaxed a little bit the movement measures. The learning? It took China 4 months to get to this point, under strict lockdown.
Let’s look now at the spread in the world. On 1st March when China peaked, it had 80,026 confirmed cases and the rest of the world registered only 8,147 cases. We are talking 4 weeks ago.
Two weeks ago, there were 146,742 infections and 5,526 deaths everywhere in the world, including the 80,930 from China.
Although South Korea and Iran were the next countries affected by the pandemic in January, Iran is today on the 7th place in the world, still increasing numbers after it imposed the lockdown mid-March (10 weeks after the start of the epidemic) and South Korea is on the 14th place, having stabilized in both new cases and deaths under maximum lockdown of the region affected. South Korea only peaked last week when active cases equaled and recovered cases, a little under 5,000 each. The learning? It took South Korea 3 months to peak, and Iran is still on the way, with 2/3 active cases and 1/3 recovered.
Italy is struggling harder than any other country after it imposed the lockdown on 10th March. Two weeks ago, Italy had 24,747 infections and 1,809 deaths. Today, Italy has 105,792 infections and 12,428 deaths. Italy is far from the peak, with only 1/5 of cases recovered and 4/5 still active. The learning? It might take Italy another 3 – 6 months to peak as it imposed the quarantine quite late, at around 9 weeks after its first infections.
Spain is struggling as much as Italy each day. Two weeks ago, right before the lockdown we had 7,753 confirmed infections and 288 deaths. Today, we’ve reached 95,923 confirmed cases and 8,464 deaths. Spain is also quite far from the peak, with only 1/3 of cases recovered and 2/3 still active. I estimate that the lockdown will be in place for another 4 – 8 weeks from now. The learning? Spain too was slow in responding to the pandemic. Like Italy and other countries, it has only imposed lockdown when numbers of infected people approached 8K and 300 deaths which was a little bit too late. Had the lockdown be imposed at the end of January or at least in February, one could argue that both Italy and Spain would have been in a completely different situation today.
We are moving now towards UK who was very slow in taking measures and only imposed the lockdown a week ago and in very loose terms. Two weeks ago, UK had 1,543 infections and 55 deaths. A week ago, when they started taking measures, it had 6,650 infections and 335 deaths, and today it reached 25,150 infections and 1,789 casualties. With 135 cases recovered and 23,226 active, UK is many many months away from the epidemic peak. I feared that UK might be at the very beginning when I sent my newsletter last week warning everyone to stay indoors and it saddens me to see so many people continue to be at risk. Under the current circumstances, if UK peaks in June – July, that would be early. I see UK struggling way into the autumn, possibly winter. UK is way behind Germany and France who are increasing numbers and will most likely overtake China soon, but they also have 1/4 recovery rates each.
You may wonder by now what’s my point in this analysis. It is simple. Whilst I’m keeping an eye on Spain where I physically am at the moment, I cannot ignore what’s happening in the UK and the rest of the world. I’m still concerned that the UK semi-lockdown allows people to go out and I fear that the national denial is going to come at a great cost: thousands, possibly tens of thousands of lives. Moreover, regardless where we find ourselves in the world, we are all affected and we will all suffer in the future. It will affect our jobs, businesses, social and family lives and it will impact significantly on our mental wellbeing, so it is vital to stay positive, but also well informed to be able to face the future, whatever that might be.
If you are in Europe, especially in the UK please stay home if you can. Get used to this as, most likely, we will all be in lockdown for at least 3 months in these top spread countries in Europe. I know some people expect this to be a 2 week measure, but I feel it will be extended step by step, to protect the population and limit the panic. I am starting to come to terms that this year will be the Coronavirus year and I am preparing myself mentally for a tough summer and autumn and possibly winter too. It is important to keep ourselves distracted and avoid being overwhelmed by the pandemic news, but at the same time we need to start building resilience and endurance to face the challenges that might come.
Wishing you all stay safe and healthy!