My thoughts on the COVID-19 situation as an individual
There are currently over 280,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection. Of which over 90,000 have recovered but there have also been over 11,000 deaths. These numbers are increasing by the hour as more and more people are tested.
When I first wrote about this virus, it was just starting to spread within China. Being a Singaporean, we were particularly sensitive to things happening in China as Singapore's economy is highly dependent on China. However, not many people from the western world, were paying attention to it back then. Now, fear and panic had spread throughout the world as the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic on 11th March. It is amazing how things change so drastically just in a span of 2 months.
Here are some of thoughts as an individual...
Statistics and numbers aren't that important
Day in and out, we see numbers and statistics of COVID-19 flashing on mainstream media. However, to me, these numbers are not that important. Different countries are handling the situation differently. There are varying degrees on how countries can reduce human contacts and there are also different levels of testing done. In the UK, the government is even talking about building herd immunity.
Furthermore, there are also continuous skepticism on the numbers reported by governments. Particularly those from China and Iran. Personally, I think we will never be able to get an accurate statistics and the best statistics we can get is probably the one from the Diamond Princess cruise.
What happened to the Diamond Princess cruise was unfortunate, especially during the period where all 3700+ passengers and crews were quarantine on the ship. However, the event also turned out to be probably the best "experiment" giving us the useful data.
Of the 3,618 people who were tested, 712 were tested positive for COVID-19. Among them, 333 exhibits no symptoms. This can be good or bad depending on how you see it. The good thing is that a good portion of people who gets this virus will only have very mild or no symptom. On the flip side, this also means that the virus can spread undetected. Since asymptomatic patients can also spread this virus albeit being less probable.
Further statistics from the Diamond Princess show that the serious complication rate is at 11% and death rate is at about 1%.
I previously also wrote another article based on the statistics from Singapore. In that article I estimated the serious complication rate to be about 28.5%. However, if I use the same calculation on today's reported statistics from Singapore, the serious complication rate is about 13%.
What this means is that the numbers really vary from country to country and also the environment. There are many moving parts and it is not that useful to draw conclusions about the serious complication rates and death rates for now.
Regardless the death rate and infection rate of this virus, there are things that individuals should do. Even without this pandemic, good personal hygiene should be practiced. And it is even more important given the current situation.
I make it a point to wash my hands as often as possible these days. I also make a conscious effort to avoid touching my face. Social distancing means reducing physical contact with other people. But depending on where you are, you might be able to still head out and get some Sun and fresh air.
This is probably also a good time to kick some bad habits such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption. The key thing is to maintain your body's immunity so that even if you get the virus, you reduce the chance of developing serious complications.
I personally think that wearing a mask is social responsibility because the virus can spread without symptoms and you can never be sure if you are carrier unless you are tested. However, I understand that masks are difficult to obtain in some places. So I suggest to wear a mask whenever feasible.
If the Diamond Princess data is the best statistics we have, this virus isn't as lethal as portrayed in mainstream and social media. Fear will feed on fear and generate more fear. If everyone do their part as an individual, I am sure humanity will survive this ordeal. Stay calm, active and healthy.