Covid19, face masks, statistics, approaches
April 27, 2020 (last edited May 29)
Experts from various countries believe that the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that is causing Covid19
will not suddenly disappear as its 2002 predecessor SARS-CoV. They expect that it will stay with us, and
become seasonal. It seems to be a cunning, unpredictable, and still little understood virus (see e.g.
three potential futures for Covid19).
We may not be able to fully control it until an efficient vaccine is developed and tested, hopefully early in 2021 (but more realistically in 18 months). In the meantime face coverings
could play an important role in the protection against Covid19, especially after the current stay-at-home
emergency measures will be gradually lifted. Good quality facemasks will be in demand, and making
them may become also a small business opportunity.
Here are some facts about their use and efficiency:
Glimpses of dealing with the Covid19 pandemic in a few untypical countries:
- Italy and South Korea virus outbreaks reveal disparity in deaths and tactics
- Sweden, Belarus, Nicaragua (and maybe some other countries?)
have chosen not to introduce any special emergency measures except for closing the borders
and recommending social distancing to their citizens! No closures of any businesses or public places or
activities were mandated. In spite of that their Covid19 statistics are not that much worse than those of other comparable countries!?
Swedes were just recommended to avoid non-essential travel, to work from home, and
for people over 70 to stay indoors. The only compulsory measure is the ban on any gatherings of 50 people and more.
Children continue to go to school, and most restaurants remain open.
In Belarus they have not even cancelled their annual spring subbotnik (unpaid voluntary spring
cleanup and beautification of public spaces on a Saturday; a Soviet tradition). It took
place on April 25 with the participation of 2.3 million of citizens, not that much less than the last
year's 3 million. People tried to maintain social distancing when raking leaves in parks and such,
but it remains to be seen whether there will be a spike of Covid19 cases in Belarus in two weeks.
Nicaragua's borders are not actually closed, but all incoming travellers have to undergo medical checks. A massive Covid19 education campaign of all population was done. They have 13 cases as of today.
- So, has most of the world overreacted because of our irrational fear of the unknown?
I hope that after this pandemic is over, the approaches of different countries and their outcomes will
be thoroughly analyzed, with the specific conditions of each country taken into account, and some useful conclusions for the future emergencies hopefully made.
It seems that the vulnerability to this virus is not simply given by a person's age, but is
determined by their overall physical and mental health, possibly even the level of societal stress, the
environment in which the people live?
Discussion is already ongoing, e.g. in Perspectives on Pandemic where Covid19 is mostly presented as not being worse than an ordinary flu, which is probably the other extreme position. This discussion is unfortunately
accompanied by unscientific motives and personal attacks. We will find out in a few more months who is right. In the meantime, all scientists with different views should be heard with respect.
I agree that we have engineered a world ripe for pandemics
- Actually, Japan and South Korea have also not shut the economy on a nation-wide scale. In Korea, restrictive measures were instituted only around the clusters of Covid19 infections - see the link above. Sweden has apparently used a similar approach in contact tracing and isolating the infected cases. Japan may have been just lucky to have a relative small number of cases without enforcing any meaningful restrictions, or their numbers are substantially underestimated due to the lack of testing, as some people suspect.
Uganda introduced preemptively wide-ranging emergency measures (shutdown of borders, schools,
churches, most of the economy) on March 18, weeks before the first Covid19 case appeared in the
country. Currently they have 79 confirmed cases.
Food stores could have remained open only if their keepers slept in them, which only about less than 10% of them were willing to do.
Using local resources: protective masks made of banana fibres:
The government started distributing basic staples, beans and corn flour
The abandoned streets of Covid19 Prague (March 22)