I have been in (self-imposed) ‘quarantine’ since we returned home from Asia (approx. 6 weeks). I am actually not suffering from “cabin fever” because I’d say that my 2019 prepared me for this exact crisis. Since moving from New York to Abu Dhabi, I have been ‘retired’ (aka unemployed) and spend most of my days at home anyway. The only difference right now is that Jon is working from home and invading my space… but we all have to make sacrifices to beat the virus, so I guess this is mine.
I have been obsessed with the developments and impact caused by the Coronavirus since mid-January when it personally affected my travel plans to Asia and Australia (I never said it wasn’t born out of selfishness).
Countries like the USA, UK, and Australia have been woefully behind the acceptance and prevention of this pandemic. I would say that reading and watching their announcements has been like getting all my teeth slowly extracted with a wrench. It’s been excruciatingly painful. And I keep asking myself “why!?! We know we can do this another way!” (My conspiracy theory is that leaders of certain countries wanted to dump their stocks first before making any announcements).
At this point, you might as well imagine me sitting in a wood cabin, deep in the forest, eating baked beans straight out of a tin which I heated on top of a fire. I absolutely feel like that conspiracy weirdo. Recently I have felt like Nostradamus but in reality, I am more like someone who had been quarantined in China and now visited a Western country and gone “wtf.. you are not doing enough. You need to be doing more! Now!!!”.
Firstly, I am not a medical professional.
But, I know how to read and listen to words and numbers that have are public knowledge. And I have been able to identify trends between the numbers of COVID-19 cases (and deaths) to what governments have done in different countries.
Let me walk you through the timeline of my information:
282 cases reported worldwide
Outside of China: 4
Three days later, numbers doubled.
581 cases worldwide
Outside of China: 10
Wuhan and other areas in Hubei go into lockdown
The worldwide cases then tripled within days.
around 1,450 cases worldwide, 15 dead
first reported case of human-to-human transmission in Europe https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/28/germany-confirms-first-human-coronavirus-transmission-in-europe
The worldwide cases doubled within four days.
around 7,500 cases worldwide (91 cases outside of China, including 5 in the USA), 170 dead
By Jan 29, despite the USA had confirmed cases, the World Health Organization had visited China and not declared it to be a global emergency. Jon and I flew out to Singapore (Jan 29) to start our Asian vacation. Despite the large jump in case and death numbers, we read it was largely contained in China. I was naturally apprehensive about going to Asia but most of the information said that the virus impacted the elderly and/or people with underlying health conditions so I thought it would ok. In hindsight, I was just plain ignorant about the situation.
the outbreak was declared a global emergency by W.H.O
The worldwide cases increased by 35,000 in under two weeks.
over 42,500 cases worldwide, 1,013 deaths
[From this date on wards, I have added the case numbers for Italy, USA, AU and UK to help you see the increases.]
76,769 cases worldwide
Outside of China: 1,200
Italy’s Lombary region goes into lock-down around this time.
As you can see above, the number of cases in China exploded from 278 to 75,569 in just one month.
Then Italy got hit hard.
Italy: 1,694 cases, 34 dead
Italy: 7,373 cases, 366 dead
Italy expanded its quarantine measures to nationwide.
When total of cases increased by over 4x and the death rate over 10x in Italy within a week the rest of the Western world started to pay attention. Not by a lot, but enough for some governments to take some actions.
USA announce EU Travel Ban effective from Mar 13
153,517 cases worldwide
China: 81,048 cases, 3,204 deaths
Italy: 21,157 cases, 1,441 deaths (cases more than doubled than a week ago)
UK advised against all non-essential travel effective immediately (Mar 17)
Australia’s travel ban came into effect at 9pm local time.
266,073 cases worldwide
China: 81,416 cases, 3,261 deaths
Italy: 47, 021 cases, 4,032 deaths (again, a week later and the number more than doubled)
If you look at the figures for March 15 to 21, Italy’s cases more than doubled (with 20,000+ cases), the USA increased by nearly 10x, Australia and UK more than tripled – in under one week.
These figures are alarming. I didn’t add all the death numbers because they make the situation look and feel more grim. For example, in less than one week, Italy had 3-4x (approx 2,600) less people waking up from their sleep.
The situation is “fluid” right now and even as I write, my home country government are making new announcements. I have been overall disappointed with how delayed and lax Australia has been with this virus because after all, Australia is just a big island and needs protection. Australia is so protective of its agriculture that we legally cannot take certain fruits from one State to another – yet they refused to cancel the F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne this year (until the last minute). Anyway, since my time-machine is not functioning as of now, there is no point to complain of how they could have done things differently.
Hubei province went into brutal lockdown Jan 23 and only now, approx. 8 weeks later, China have finally reported no new cases.
USA, Australia, UK and many other countries have only just released more restrictions when they could have taken action earlier (China and Italy as detailed above are excellent active case studies). But these countries will never be as strict as China which leads me to predict that without some sort of miracle, they will not experience the same decrease in numbers within 8 weeks.
However, there is no need to panic for now.
We all just need to work together. Globally.
If you are reading this and not currently in self-isolation/quarantine where and when possible (I haven’t lost touch with the common man, I know people need to work), please, for your community, for your healthcare system, for the economy – please use common sense and do it.
It won’t be forever. But if we don’t band together now, and this drags on, it will feel like forever!
The quicker we all start complying to the new (for now) norm, globally, we should be able to get back to our usual norm faster! Our rewards: (safe) Olympics, football, World Expo, travel (I have a wedding I need to get to in June so come on everyone!)!
Please do not wait for your government to announce a ban or restriction before taking action. They are being made too late. And they have been too lax. You will need to take it upon yourself to make common sense decisions at this critical time. There is concrete evidence that self-isolation works.
I hope you all stay well and stay safe. To help lighten the mood, here’s a clip of Jimmy Kimmel doing his show from home during self-quarantine.