The Spread of the Coronavirus

I thought I would share the above graphic because provides a simple yet very effective illustration of why
it is so important to delay the spread of the Coronavirus, and why strict precautions are being taken to achive that.

The primary cause of death for patients suffering from COVID-19, the disease carried by this virus is that inflamation of the lining of the alveoli in the lungs makes it harder for oxygen to diffuse across into the capillaries and for carbon dioxide to diffuse out. As outlined in the report I shared a few days ago, severe cases therefore require treatment that involves being supplied with oxygen via a respirator for a long period, perhaps weeks. The number of available respirators and intensive care units generally is likely to prove the factor that limits the capacity of hospitals to cope.

The situation might be worse in England because the NHS only has about 2.3 hospital beds per thousand of the population so the capacity limit may be hit much earlier. For reference, Ireland is not much better on 2.96, Scotland has 4.2 and Germany has 8; see here for OECD figures from other countries.

Delaying the spread of the virus may prevent health services from being overwhelmed by spreading out the peak in the manner indicated in the diagram even if the total number of cases were not to reduce. Pushing back the bulk of the distribution by weeks or months may also help if the virus is seasonal – it may transmit infection less efficiently during the spring or summer than it does during the winter.

In the light of this it can’t do any harm to share the HSE advice for Ireland again.

Now wash your hands please.

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