Monday, 23 March 2020

Fear leads to stupidity...

There are as of this writing (23 Mar 2020, early hours), almost 24,000 confirmed Covid19 cases in Germany. The numbers reported for the US is more than 30,000. But the deaths reported in Germany is 93. So how many deaths are there in the US?




Is the Coronavirus infection rate in Germany comparable to the US? Are the two countries in about the same situation?


Testing for the coronavirus is abysmally low in the US. They did not have a working test, and they declined to use the available WHO test kit.

As a result the 30,000+ cases that they KNOW for sure are Covid19, are the most symptomatic and severe cases.

Conversely, Germany is actively and aggressively testing their citizens and they have identified 24,000 cases of Covid19. But their death rate is very much lower than the US. Why?

Early detection means early treatment.

About 80% of cases are mild cases. Detecting ALL cases means 24,000 cases are close to the true number of infected.

For the US, the lack of testing means only the very severe cases are being identified and treated and by the time they are detected and identified as Covid19 patients, they are seriously ill. So the 30,000 confirmed cases is probably only the most severe cases, and the actual infected is probably closer to 150,000 now (as of this writing).

The point is, you cannot just look the at (reported) numbers and make a simple comparison.

Take Italy. The whole of Italy has been locked down like Wuhan had been.


It's not like Wuhan.

The Vice-President of the Chinese Red Cross which went to Italy to help observed that Italy's
lockdown measures and enforcement were very lax (watch video above).

And so Italy now has over 53,000 cases, and more than 4800 deaths. China's 81,000+ cases has (probably) peaked. And their 3200+ deaths is LOWER than that in Italy.

Again, a simple comparison of numbers between Italy and China is not going to give you the full picture. It matters what is being done and the specifics of each town or country.

From The New York Times "Italy, Pandemic's New Epicentre."
Italy’s piecemeal attempts to cut it off — isolating towns first, then regions, then shutting down the country in an intentionally porous lockdown — always lagged behind the virus’s lethal trajectory.
And the US is JUST now starting to implement the lockdown - State by State as POTUS have not led the country leaving the governors of the respective States to order lockdowns in their state.

I'd make a guess that what they are doing is too late. And the lack of proper testing means, they are working blind.

But the stupidest effect of all this is the panic it induces in... let's call them the "sceptically foolish and ignorant".

Because you can see on the internet images of eerily empty streets in Europe, shuttered businesses, and what seems like ghost towns, even as the number of Covid19 cases go up, even as the death toll rises, and you wonder,  "Are we doing enough in Singapore?"

And the SG government makes measured decisions - no mass gatherings of more than 200 persons, restricted travel and border control, even as they allow critical and essential elements into the country - there are panicky comments on social media.

Fear leads to Anger. Anger leads to Stupidity (or Hate). And hateful stupidity leads to... pain and suffering.

For example, Singapore Citizens trying to return to Singapore after a holiday should be allowed back of course. This is their home. This is their country. But some panicked and selfish individuals are of the opinion that they should not be allowed in.

But, shouldn't the greater good of the whole Singapore Community be more important than a Singapore Citizen being able to return home now. We are not depriving them of their home permanently. Just for now. Until the danger has passed.

Well, "danger" to whom or for whom?

Just because in your panic you conclude that it is dangerous doesn't mean you are right. Or in the right frame of mind. Or even in the right mind.

Singapore takes our survival seriously.

Incoming visitors or returning citizens from overseas are screened. In fact the latest protocol is that on arrival, they are served with a "Stay Home Notice" regardless of whether they have symptoms of Covid19.

If they have symptoms, they are isolated and tested. And quarantined. And Monitored.

The Singapore protocol for contact tracing is impressive, admired and prescribed.

Which is not to say that SG is perfect. Harvard says we are "gold standard":
“We consider the detection of 18 cases by Feb 4, 2020 in Singapore to be a gold standard of near-perfect detection,” said the report’s authors, adding that they had used a model to estimate the probability of detection in other countries relative to Singapore.
The world is detecting imported cases of Covid-19 at 38 per cent of Singapore’s ability to do so, said four epidemiologists from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in the study, that has not yet been peer-reviewed.
But they also added that we were probably not perfect:
However, Singapore’s detection is “probably not 100 per cent efficient”, and the model was also able to estimate that there are around 1.8 undetected cases for every detected Covid-19 patient in the city-state.
Part of the weakness is that contact tracing is dependent on the memory and accuracy of the information provided by the infected. They may be wrong or dishonest.

And there is an element of chance in it. Which is why we are advised to wash our hands frequently.

Just in case we encounter the virus inadvertently.

Which is why there are other measures and contingencies. Like what this woman went through:
A Singapore-based British yoga teacher known only as Melissa told the BBC that she was having a barbecue on a Saturday afternoon when she received a surprising phone call...
MOH told her in that phone call that she needed to “stay at home and be quarantined”, according to the BBC — we think that means she was served a Stay-Home Notice or Quarantine Order.
MOH wasn’t joking. The next day, 3 officers came to Melissa’s home.
They were wearing surgical masks and jackets, in what seemed to her like a scene from a movie.
She was given a quarantine order, which she described as “a contract” — i.e. meaning an actual legal document.
If you breach the quarantine order by leaving your home, you will face a fine and prison, she added.

In other words, we take our quarantine measures seriously.

Which makes panic and panicked responses irrational and stupid.

And stupidity comes from ignorance and fear.

Or vice versa.

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