Even if you are young and heathy there are very good reasons to fear this disease and take drastic actions to avoid it individually, and halt it together as communities.
Not only would it be traumatic as a society to lose so many old and unwell family members and friends, but survivors of the disease may suffer significant health problems in the future. Survivors of the first SARS virus in 2003 have suffered significant lung problems. The latest research suggests this also applies to the new coronavirus. Evidence is beginning to emerge that the coronavirus disease will have long term harmful effects on lung health. No one wants to contract this disease, young or old, healthy or unhealthy, because if it doesn’t kill you, it may nevertheless cause long term harm.
So what do we do?
We need to stay home for a few weeks. Everyone, right now. Work from home if possible, remove children from school, and do not go out and socialise. Get what you need for one month, and do it immediately. Strict measures have stopped the spread of the disease in China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. It works. They have done it.
But isn’t that just delaying the inevitable? Aren’t we better off letting the disease run its course? No! When the virus is under control, as it is coming under control in South Korea, then a very rigorous system of testing and isolation of ill patients CAN keep this disease under control. It won’t be easy, but if we contain the spread of the virus for a year or two it will give time for vaccines and treatments to be developed. Society CAN begin to function more normally when the disease is under control as long as strict monitoring and isolation of ill people is maintained. South Korea is demonstrating this.
We must demand that the law protects people from going bankrupt or homeless as a result of halting this disease. This is already happening in Spain and Italy. We must demand the same immediately in our country. Only if home, jobs, and basic sustenance are secure will people comply with the extreme measures necessary to halt this disease.
But aren’t Chinese and Koreans too different from us? Do we have the discipline to contain the disease as they have done? We must, it’s as simple as that. It’s possible, and we must do it, because the alternative is unthinkable: the collapse of the health system as in Italy, the untimely death of millions of people, the breakdown of trust and security in our society, and long-standing health problems for survivors of the disease.
These consequences are simply too terrible. We must find the discipline to practise social distancing and other measures as they have in South Korea, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. It is possible, they have done it, we must do it too.