On March 3, Facebook power user and CEO of Temasek Holdings, Ho Ching, compared the Covid-19 outbreak to a primary school tutorial on how to manage an emerging disease. She compared the virus to SARS, where the latter made patients very sick while the former is quite subtle in terms of symptoms.
With Covid-19, “most patients have mild to no symptoms. About 20% have serious conditions requiring ventilator oxygen support, with 3% going into ICU,” said Ms Ho. “It’s much milder than SARS or MERS, though more serious than the common cold or seasonal influenza from dozens of other common human viruses.”
She gave one example of a patient who had the “broken glass” white patches in his lungs after being tested but still felt well and had no other symptoms of the virus. “He was confirmed only because his infected parents insisted he be tested,” said Ms Ho who continued to give similar scenarios happening in other countries.
There is a hidden cluster in Washington, USA and their scientists perceive that the virus had been circulating under the radar before the groups popped up, said Ms Ho.
“Suppose the clusters which pop into the open in China were a cult church group or a prisons group?” she asked. “We may be hunting for a person whose hobby is bat watching or swimming in underground lakes.” The turn of events and narrative for the Covid-19 outbreak would have a different angle if such were the case.
“All in, Covid-19 is like a primary school tutorial on how to manage as well as how not to manage an emerging disease,” said Ms Ho who also categorized SARS and described it to be a lesson on the kindergarten level.
She used Wuhan, Japan and Italy as examples of the emerging disease tutorial. The first two countries started off with rigid case definitions having to do with locations where people could get infected such as the seafood market or the cruise ship. Italy, although quick on the ball and banned visits to and from China and other places with the virus, still experienced a huge spread of clusters, said Ms Ho.
“There are two limbs to containment,” shared Ms Ho as she monitored the virus behaviour. The first is to break close contact while the other is to promptly respond to “domestic or in-country circulation of mild or no symptoms cases.” She then reiterated the need for social distancing, proper hand hygiene and social responsibility as crucial steps to containment.
“We should expect that this virus is now in most countries, whether or not they have reported cases,” said Ms Ho. “The air connectivity between continents is both a boon and a bane during a pandemic.”
She reminded everyone to stay “cool, with steady hands and kind hearts” which are the most critical assets to containing the outbreak.
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In SARS, patients all get very sick, and its infectious period is clearly marked with the start of fever. In COVID-19,…
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