Mario Chiong, ACCDIS researcher: The only way to slow down the growth curve of the coronavirus is social isolation
COVID-19-causing coronavirus has evolved in such a way in Chile and around the world that it has forced us to take a series of measures to safeguard people's health and even lives.
In this sense, the PAR Explores O'Higgins of the University of O'Higgins and the PAR Explora RM Norte of the Universidad Chile -executed by the Advanced Center on Chronic Diseases (ACCDIS)- Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Knowledge, worked together to provide information you will see that it affirms or demifies some topics that have circulated through various channels of communication. In this line, was attended by the Director of PAR RM Norte and scientist of ACCDIS Dr.. Mario Chiong.
The curve of the coronavirus
Much is talked about the growth curve and how to slow it down, but what is it and what does it mean to flatten the curve? Dr. Chiong explains that it corresponds to the number of cases that have suffered the disease per day. "On March 3rd we had a case, the next day 3 cases, the number of positive cases account for the so-called coronavirus curve, the growth curve, in both, corresponds to an exponential curve, for example if a patient infects two patients on day 1, on day 2 we will have two patients, but on a day 3 each is going to infect two, so it's going to go up from 4 to 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, etc. and if you're still in the same progression after a month there could be millions of people infected"
"If the coronavirus curve is a curve like the one I mentioned earlier, in a few days we're going to have thousands of cases a day, Approx. 80% of these cases do not require attention, but 20% will require medical attention and the order of 4,5 and 5% are going to require medical assistance associated with a mechanical respirator, extreme emergency assistance", Mentioned. The worrying thing about this is that according to the information of the Ministry of Health Chile has approximately 40 thousand beds in the system, so we would have to "build or enable new beds to meet this demand".
The scenario may sound catastrophic and so flattening the curve becomes a fundamental necessity. "There will come a time when the number of patients required by a mechanical ventilator is going to exceed the number of respirators in Chile and at that time not all the sick could be cared for and the mortality rate would increase", therefore the importance of "controlling the curve so that it does not grow sharply, but in a very leisurelyly controlled way. This means that, even if the number of cases increases - as the rate of growth will be gradual- the health system will be able to dispose of the beds and medical infrastructure in order to care for all the seriously ill and, Therefore, the mortality rate is lower, mitigating the effects of coronavirus".
Faced with the question How to slow down the curve? The specialist states that "in order to slow the curve you have to stop the contagions and prevent the spread". So far two effective ways have been used to curb contagion: one is the example of Wuhan as in Chile, measures were put in place to restrict the movement of people – just like Italy and France – people have been banned from driving through the streets; the other way has been that implemented by South Korea, where the movement was not restricted, but an intense strategy was used in testing, so that people who are positive about coronavirus, even before symptoms and make those people quarantine", thus controlling the curve.
Chile's contagion rate will continue to rise, it is expected that at the rate the disease is growing the maximum infection will occur in late April or early May. "Indeed next week we will have a higher rate of contagion and are expected to continue to increase in the following weeks, but if the prevention measures are correct the contagion rate should be lower.
Who is infected and how many?
Angela Merkel, Germany's minister said that 70% of Germans are expected to have contracted the disease by the end of this crisis. According to Chiong," we're probably going in the same direction, nobody in the world knows, but it will be a very important population"
In England it had set out to infect children and young people who are a population developing a very mild disease and there is very low mortality rate, However, what is known is that this population is always in contact with high-risk population. "If the number of infected people increases explosively in Chile, sooner or later older adults will get sick explosively as well and with this type of growth curve we would have saturation of medical services and the impossibility of being able to properly care for all the sick".
"What is expected then is social estrangement, the ban on going to work, do tele work for this way, flattening the growth curve, having time and skills to care for all the sick. Therefore, say we don't quarantine, that we don't do telework is irresponsible", highlights.
One of the measures in question has been the use of the mask. There are those who manifest free distribution for all people, but the interviewee's opinion highlights that "there are several things one must balance, first the mask is a protective element for people who have the virus or people who do it in a very busy place where there is a high chance that the virus will spread through the air through the drops of sneezing. For the rest of the population the use of the mask is not indicated"
The second consideration regarding the correct use of the mask goes to a normal person who has not been associated with the medical service. These people "don't know the right way to wear the mask, when they put on and take off the mask they manipulate with their hand the areas where the virus is supposed to be. Therefore, that misuse of the mask is going to give the person that sense of security and protection that they're not going to have and, Therefore, people who feel safe have riskier behaviors". The recommendation is that the mask should be used under special conditions, people should be trained for use and limited to those who really need it.
Vaccine against influence, older adults and at-risk individuals
Dr. famecology recommends that both older and at-risk adults get the flu vaccine, "because the worst thing is that they acquire the two diseases, it is highly recommended to get vaccinated". The question is where to get vaccinated, versus what he says "could be done in health services", who should control access to the population, to make it gradual, without snoocheing and thus does not cause a greater danger.
Opinion on government measures
With regard to the criticisms of government measures, the expert believes that effective and serious action has been taken. Early health warning and the closure of schools and now shopping centres are measures that have also been taken in other countries, effectively. It also stresses that it remains the best way to consider the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) through case testing and people's movement limit.
Facing the state of national catastrophe, the professor at the University of Chile, states that this will allow the Government to have a "series of powers to be able to control the supply line of basic supplies and medical services, and also the possibility of extreme measures to make seizures of public and private property, with this capacity, there is likely to be no under-supply in health services. The undersupply that has been seen so far is an over-demand problem, more than there are no inputs, the supplies are likely to reach the health service, to protect the medical team and the population".