Do Your Part, Stay Apart – Why Flattening the Curve is Important
The national MCO has been extended for two more weeks to further prevent and curb the spread of COVID-19 in Malaysia
Malaysians are advised to stay home and practice social distancing to help flatten the curve
Malaysians certainly are quite a creative bunch – in the days following the announcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO), now extended to April 14, many had begun sharing helpful tips on staying active while working from home – be it posting photos of their workstations, offering free online workouts, and even participating in food challenges such as the Dalgona coffee trend (it’s delicious, by the way). Some have even created COVID-19 memes to inject some humour into our morbid predicament.
However, while the underlying reason for the extended MCO is understandingly necessary and inevitable, many are still seen defying the MCO, which prompts the question – does everyone truly understand the need for social distancing and why?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social distancing and reducing contact with others is part of the process to flatten the curve.
But, WHAT is this ‘curve’?
The ‘curve’ actually indicates the projected number of people who will contract COVID-19 over a period of time, and by flattening the curve, it refers to a method deployed to prevent a peak of cases and the spread of infection.
In China, doctors reported seeing a significant increase in infections with little control, and then a significant drop in infection cases. This was due to the possibility of the virus infecting almost everyone it could possibly infect, which gradually moved to a recovery phase – creating the curve with the high peak.
In other words, the quicker the infection curve rises, the faster the local healthcare system gets overloaded beyond its capacity to treat people, which can be seen happening right now in Italy.
So, WHY social distancing?
Essentially, the main objective is to not overwhelm our healthcare systems.
The virus has already been proven to spread quickly – just take a quick look at the rising numbers of infections in our country and elsewhere.
Studies in China have shown that the Reproduction number (Ro) of the virus is 3, which means that up to three persons can be infected by having contact with just one person who has tested positive for it. This makes it highly infectious and should not be taken lightly.
By reducing contact with others, we halt the chances of it spreading, or at the very least limit it to fewer people.
With limited capacity in crucial wards such as the ICU, slowing down the spread gives our medical help time to get much needed resources to treat and release patients before the next batch of positive patients come in.
In other words, we assume the same number of people who will ultimately get infected but over a longer period of time. With a slower infection rate, hospitals will receive fewer patients on a given day thus, fewer sick people will be turned away. Thereby, flattening the curve.
Visual artists have also done their part by creating animations and illustrations to demonstrate what social distancing can do to curb the spread.
Now, WHO should comply?
In a series of memes that have echoed our Prime Minister’s plea to the nation to ‘duduk diam diam’ at home, it goes without saying that ALL of us have a very crucial part to play in preventing this disease from spreading any further than it already has.
With the number of positive cases increasing daily, many healthcare workers around the country are doing their best to contain and diminish the spread of the virus.
Many have not been able to go home in fear of infecting their families, and medical supplies are running out – some have had to resort to using plastic bags as coverings, which clearly do not provide sufficient protection against the virus.
They are counting on each and every Malaysian to adhere to the MCO in support of their efforts.
HOW can we help?
Be a responsible citizen and comply with the rules and keep yourself updated with announcements from the government or any ruling authority on the matter. Staying indoors all day may seem counter-productive, so plan and manage your time wisely.
As dining in at restaurants is no longer an option, cook your own food or order from your favourite local restaurant through a food delivery service. If you plan to take away food, bring your own containers to reduce single use plastic.
If you have to go out, remember to keep a distance of 1 metre from the next person and wash your hands with soap or hand sanitiser. Hand hygiene is essential in preventing the spread of the virus.
Lastly, do check up on friends or elderly neighbours who may not be as mobile as you are and offer help where you can. Order groceries online for them or even do their shopping if you are able to go out. Every bit helps as we all try to get through these unprecedented times together.
Let’s do our part by staying apart, but together in heart.
Stay responsible, stay safe and stay home!
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This article first appeared in Berita Sunway Issue 69