Thursday, May 14, 2020

Information Deluge

Since the advent of Covid19 into our country there has been a flood of information. What started as a trickle has now become a flood. Electronic and paper media are full of the news related to this virus. As I sit and analyse the various reports, I get this impression. Bad news gets more publicity that good news. More gory the details more newsworthy is the story and there is and will be many such stories in future.
Let us look at some facts.

At the time of my writing this piece, there were 75000 positive cases with 1600 deaths. Which means less than 1.5% of the infected cases, which is better than what is seen in most countries.  Even if one considers the possibility of inadequate data collection, the figures are still low. Is this encouraging figure because of the success of social distancing and mask wearing? To some extent it may be, especially because of imposition of travel restrictions. But social isolation of keeping 6 ft away from one another,is an impossibility given the socioeconomic conditions prevailing in our country. So one can take it that it has not been implemented except may be in the 10% upper economic strata. So is mask wearing, though I see many wearing masks, most may not know how long the mask lasts. Cloth masks need to be washed in detergent solution daily. Surgical masks last for 4 to 6 hours and needs to be discarded. N95 masks can also be reused, but again needs to be sanitised before use. I asked a few persons and most of them didn't know these facts. So I presume, this mask wearing too is more or less been not very effective.

Then why is the mortality, is so low? I see the following reasons

1 Travel restrictions
2 Demography. Only 15% of the population are elderly who are more susceptible. As these do not normally socially interact and their numbers are small this could be one major factor.
3 Efficient public health and primary care. In states like Kerala where these are strong the spread is also very slow. In some states who have the machinery in place for disaster management like in Orissa too this is true. States like Karnataka too have shown good results
4 Virus mutation and environment. It is possible that hot weather and a less virulent strain mabe other factors.

What is the likely scenario when the lockdown is lifted

There will be a spike in positive cases and the mortality figures may show a slight increase, when once the travel restrictions are lifted and economic activity restarts. But the doomsday predictions of people dying on our streets etc etc is most unlikely to happen.

Some advice from an old person

We humans are social animals. Social isolation is detrimental to mental and physical health. We should meet and interact. Of course, we need to sanitise our hands, wear proper effective masks and if possible keep a safe distance. In case of flu like symptoms not going in a couple of days get tested with out panic. Remember, it you are young you belong to 93% who will recover and if you are old there is 85% chance of full recovery

And for the next three moths watch less of news TV, read less of newspapers and don't read and what's app forwards!

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