The spread of coronavirus all across the world is unprecedented. It is also the first time that a virus has affected the whole world and has the potential to disrupt world economy. Let us explore the four stages of virus outbreak and at what stage are we in India at.
Bitter truth of infection with COVID-19
When NATO reduced the caliber of their primary infantry weapon from 7.62 to 5.56mm they wanted to wound the enemy rather than kill. A wounded soldier puts a strain on the resources of a fighting army and demoralizes others. COVID-19 in many ways is the perfect biological weapon. An infected individual will not show any symptoms at all while still spread the infection. Those with a weak immune system will be the targets and might lose their life. Patients will be required to kept in ICU and maybe on respirator. Scores of people will get infected but will never know about it. The virus will spread through air but it can remain alive on surfaces ranging from a few hours to a few weeks.
Four stages of infection spread
Coronavirus just like any other family of virus has a particular pattern of spreading from human to human. Based on studies, scientists now know the four stages of how the infection will spread.
Stage One – Infection spread only between international travellers
The first outbreak was reported by China in the province of Wuhan on 31 Dec 2019. There is a suspicion that the virus had infected people in mid Nov, but the authorities had suppressed the information. Throughout the month of January and February international travelers kept moving despite the rapid outbreak of the disease. China is the hub of international economy and manufacturing and everyday hundreds of passengers move in and out of China. Plus scores of international students. So after the local outbreak in China, Stage One is only to international travelers who have visited China.
Stage Two – Spread of local infection in respective countries (Local transmissions)
In this stage infection spreads in local communities but the source of infection can be traced. If any international passenger reaches home, that building or neighborhood can follow self quarantine. In case the govt feels so, all passengers showing symptoms can be kept at a central facility. But the cost of running such facility is prohibitive.
India is at Stage Two where the individuals with travel history can be tracked. Authorities can also trace the people who have been in contact with such people. This is the reason of the notices which we can see pasted on the entrances of houses by the administration. Many things can go wrong during this stage.
- Infected people with symptoms can escape quarantine facilities.
- International tourists visiting local tourist attractions.
- Public places with large foot fall like malls, hotels, railway stations, airports & hospitals.
India has to halt the spread of the virus at this stage. That is why the country is in lock down mode. Staying home and avoiding mass gathering or travel is the only way to contain. Schools, colleges, offices & public places will be closed. Social distancing will be followed. This does not mean that the number of cases will not rise. Only the exponential rise can be stopped. Health workers and administration is doing a herculean task to contain by being on ground.
Stage Three – Infections cannot be traced (Community Transmissions)
In this stage, there is a ten fold rise in infection cases every day. One cannot trace the source of the infection anymore. This stage also puts a huge burden on the health care infrastructure of any country. Many countries like USA, Iran and the whole of Europe are in this stage. The economic costs are also phenomenal because the country goes into a prolonged stage of shut down. No country can endure economic shutdowns beyond two weeks. India cannot afford to move to this stage.
Stage Four – Epidemic
This is the final stage when the govt machinery can just sit back helplessly and dispose off dead bodies and take care of the seriously ill. Most of the patients will be sent back home and asked to recover on their own.
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