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One bit of good news is that pollution is down in China, a result of most of the factories having been closed there for the past while. Governments are closing their borders all over the world. Airlines have suffered large numbers of cancellations, and are going out of business. The cruise ship industry has been virtually terminated, and almost all professional sporting events are cancelled. The stock market is in chaos, going up and down with every presidential rant. The fear of infection and the requirement for "social distancing" has caused all bars, night clubs, and restaurants to close. Also all schools, universities, libraries, community centres, fitness centres, and so on. The wheels are wobbling and about to fall off, and this crash is going to be ugly.
UPDATE May 14: The City of Vancouver has stated that "cruise ships are not welcome here this summer."
UPDATE May 14: Airlines that have ceased operations include Virgin Australia, Avianca (Columbia), Compass and Trans-States (US), Flybe (UK).
UPDATE May 14: Some of the airlines that have announced layoffs include: WestJet 3,000 employees; Air Canada 16,500; Norwegian 7,300; Virgin Atlantic 3,150.
UPDATE May 16: Air Canada increases layoffs to 20,000.
UPDATE May 14: 25% of the US population has applied for unemployment benefits.
Unless the virus mutates and becomes more lethal, it appears most folks will survive this pandemic (by itself, that is). Lots of numbers are being tossed around about mortality rates, but Italy is leading in reported deaths per confirmed infections with a 7% or 8% mortality rate. That is seven or eight people out of one hundred who contract the disease will die. They are mostly older people with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma or a compromised immune system. The mortality rate in that specific group of people is incredibly high. Italy has been suffering more deaths than any other country, with the exception so far of Spain, with mortalities ranging from 400 to more than 900 per day. In comparison, the average number of deaths in Italy is around 1,750 per day, every day.
UPDATE May 14: The virus is now known to have mutated a number of times. At least one strain has been identified as D614G, and is apparently more infectious. Never trust a virus.
UPDATE May 14: With 73,653 known cases and 5,434 deaths, Canada's mortality rate is 7.38%.
UPDATE May 14: The USA has taken over the lead in mortalities.
UPDATE March 30: It has slowly become clear that virtually all statistics about infections or deaths are not being properly reported. For one thing, almost no country has just gone ahead and tested everyone. Thus, large numbers of infected people are not identified. Also, for example, most countries were only counting a COVID-19 death if the person died in a hospital, and had been confirmed as having the virus. If they weren't confirmed, no COVID death. If they died at home, or in a senior's housing facility, it wasn't counted. This is, of course, in addition to whatever lies are being told by various countries about what's going on. The graph of new infections in Iran, for example, looks engineered to be a straight line going in the right direction. Russia's looks like they don't even know how to count.
UPDATE May 14: The COVID-19 death toll in Britain reached 30,000 this week. The government also reported that during the same reporting period the number of deaths in Britain was actually 50,000 higher than average, and that the additional 20,000 deaths may well be from the virus, or virus related.
UPDATE May 14: Fortunately, most countries are reporting an overall low rate of infection, although the great majority of people have not been tested. As of May 14 Canada's count of known infections (per John Hopkins) was 73,653, which is less than 1/5th of 1 percent of the population, or about 1 in every 500 people. The current percentage in the USA is double that of Canada, or 2 in 500. Even if we have managed to "flatten the curve" of the virus's growth, there are still a vast number of targets for it to infect.
UPDATE May 14: 2 in 500 doesn't sound like many, but look at it another way. If you had a football or soccer stadium filled with 30,000 fans, you'd have 120 infected people in the stadium. The record attendance at Superbowl 13 was 104,000, which could have included over 400 infected fans. If they had cholera, bubonic plague, or ebola would you attend the game?
Comparing this virus to pneumonia, the CDC website notes that approximately 50,000 Americans die every year from pneumonia, or about 960 deaths per week. As of March 14, the US had 41 reported deaths from COVID-19. By March 30 the US had 2,575 deaths. In those two weeks, the rate of COVID-19 mortalities surpassed those of pneumonia by 50%.
UPDATE May 1: One full month later, the USA has a count of 1,103,117 infected, and a total of 64,804 dead. That is 10 TIMES greater than the annual US pneumonia death rate for the same length of time. The graph of total infected is still a straight line going up at about the same angle as a backslash: / .
UPDATE May 14: In the two weeks from May 1st to 14th, the US death toll rose 20,000 to reach approximately 85,000. That's 42,500 people per month since March 14, now about 10-1/2 times the annual average for pneumonia.
Questions that I've been trying to find the answers for:
0. What is a fomite?
a. A surface or object from which the virus can be contacted.
(table, counter, door knob, coffee mug, elevator button, ABM keypad, etc.)
1. How does the virus get into me?
a. from inhaled droplets shed by an infected person
b. onto skin from droplets or a fomite
(can you be infected if it just gets onto your skin?)
(does it need to be transferred from skin to face or mucous membranes?)
(does the virus need to get into the respiratory system?)
c. ingested (from droplets in food or drink)
(will you be infected if it gets into your digestive system?)
(does the virus need to get into the respiratory system?)
2. How long is the virus viable on its own after it is "shed" by a sick person?
a. Droplets: no accurate data currently available.
Estimates run 1 to 3 hours, or longer
b. Fomites: no accurate data currently available.
Estimates run from 1 to 10 days
Textured surfaces may dry out virus or make it stick
Smooth surfaces allow longer viable period
Smooth surfaces are easily cleaned
3. How soon after I get the virus can I infect other people?
a. Current estimates start at 2 days.
b. You can be infectious before you have symptoms.
4. For how long after I get the virus can I infect other people?
a. Accurate data not available.
b. Assume that you are infectious for as long as you are sick.
5. How soon after I get the virus will I have obvious symptoms?
a. Current estimates are from 1 to 14 days, average time is 5 to 6 days
b. Some people show almost no symptoms.
6. How long will I be sick?
a. On average, onset to clinical recovery is about 2 weeks for mild cases (WHO)
b. For severe and critical cases onset to recovery is 3 to 6 weeks (WHO)
7. What are the symptoms of a mild case of COVID-19?
a. Fever, dry cough, fatigue, sputum, shortness of breath, muscle pain,
joint pain, sore throat, headache, chills, nausea, vomiting, nasal congestion
8. What are the symptoms of a severe or critical case?
a. Severe pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock, multiple organ failure, death.
b. About a quarter of severe and critical cases require mechanical ventilation (WHO)
c. The time from symptom onset to death ranges from 2 to 8 weeks (WHO)
9. When I recover, can I get it again?
a. Current thinking is "yes" (like a cold or flu).
10. When I recover, can I still infect other people?
a. Accurate data not available.
11. Is there any correlation between the patient's age and likelihood of death?
a. Yes. Older patients are at much higher risk.
b. Children are at much less risk.
UPDATE May 1: News reports state that some countries have received medical supplies from China. Spain reported that 1/3 of all test kits received were defective. The Netherlands reported that 100% of the face masks were unusable.
UPDATE May 14: Canada received 1,000,000 defective masks from China, who blamed "supply chain difficulties."
The entire system is now built around "just in time" delivery, and that means that we don't build hospital beds before they are needed. We don't stock up on oxygen or other medical supplies unless necessary. A surge in demand like the one now upon us will be extremely hard to properly support, in particular because the vast majority of basic supplies and raw materials come from China. As happened in Italy, hospitals will be overwhelmed, and the medical system - while it exists - will have to switch to a "triage" mode - save the people who can be saved. Don't expend resources on those who can't be saved. At some point there will be probably need to be a change in government thinking about assisted death, simply by necessity.
One well-thought through article that I read on-line noted that in times like this, the people have always risen to the challenge. I would like to think that will be true again.