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Hi, this is @kevinpatterson. I’m a critical care doctor; I work in an ICU on Vancouver Island, and in the Arctic on the west coast of Hudson Bay. I’ve been thinking a lot about the history of pandemics lately, for all the obvious reasons—and also, about February 15. 1/11
Only six weeks ago, in the last days of January, Wuhan, China was seeing thousands of new cases a day. The hospitals were overwhelmed, and 14% of nurses became infected. It got pretty Dantean. 2/11
On January 23, China imposed draconian public health measures to try and halt the spread. At that point, there had been 517 #COVIDー19 cases in Wuhan, and 17 deaths—on both counts, fewer than America has right now. 3/11
Which brings us to February 15. There were 15,000 new cases that day, and the health system had already broken down. The lockdown had been in place for more than three weeks by then, and there was no real evidence it was working. 4/11
But February 15 turned out to be the worst day. After that new cases fell steadily and with remarkable speed. Today—only three weeks later—there were fewer than ten. 5/11
Taiwan never did develop a broad scale outbreak. Neither did Hong Kong or Singapore, despite early significant exposures. South Korea did, but has kept the mortality rate low and has avoided overwhelming its health care system. 6/11
Those are important data points. When carried out early, and with sufficient community acceptance, public health measures—social distancing, movement reduction—work. And they work better with #COVIDー19 than could ever have been expected. 7/11
“Social distancing” sounds like we’re each alone, and in an obvious physical way that’s true. But it’s also how we come together—together is the only way it works, if we all do it—and I do believe there is power and strength in that. 8/11
Here’s the thing about #COVIDー19: there is no objective, independent fact about how deadly it is. If we control the spread, if we slow transmission down, even the people who will get ill have much, much better odds. The fatality rate changes based on how we respond to it. 9/11
It isn’t a question of running and hiding. It’s resolving, along with our colleagues and neighbours and families, to take care of each other—all these invisible networks of care, preserved, counter-intuitively and just for a while, by distance. 10/11
Thanks to The Walrus for sharing their twitter account, @kevinpatterson signing off. Read my full story here:… 11/11
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