Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Coronavirus 8

Readers of this little series of bloglets (for #1-7 see panel to right) will know that I have tried to emphasise the uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic, hoping for the best whilst being aware of the worst.

We can still hope for the best, that the virus will spontaneously mutate into a less harmful form and that the outbreak will peter out. There is, however, no evidence of that yet. So let us plan for the worst.

It is important to understand the underlying nature of how an epidemic can spread and the best account I've seen so far is this video from 3blue1brown . It's a bit of a maths lesson but it is quite okay to let the mathematical notation wash past you; the essential message will stick. I do urge all my readers to watch it. The eight minutes will not be wasted.

Lives depend on delaying and spreading out the peak in demand for health services. Tragically, our political leaders, and even some of their scientific advisers, seem to be acting like frightened rabbits caught in the headlights. In the UK we are some 10 to 14 days ahead of the situation in Italy but instead of grabbing the chance to get ahead of the curve by implementing drastic measures our government has announced they are going to wait and see.

This may turn out to be the most egregious failure of leadership in our lifetime.

Governments may fail but that just places a greater responsibility on each of us. It is high time we assume that other people are potentially infectious and that we do everything we can to avoid becoming infected ourselves. It is time we assume that we ourselves are infected and that we do everything we can to avoid infecting others.

For my part, as curator of an art exhibition planned for this coming April (see Faces of Climate) I have today written to the venue organisers to explore possible dates for a postponement.

Life as planned will be disrupted in the coming weeks. For some it may be disrupted permanently, but we all have our part to play to minimise that.


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