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Rise Of COVID-19 Cases Shows The Need To 'Flatten The Curve.' What Does It Mean?
  • With COVID-19 cases on the rise, everyone is doing their part to try to slow down th pandemic by staying home and washing their hands — habits that experts say can help “flatten the curve.” But what does this phrase mean? .

    Flatten the curve

    Flattening the curve means taking measures to drastically reduce the number of new cases. When it happens, it can slow the spread of a virus, and fewer people will need medical treatment. The curve refers to the projected, theoretical number of people who will get COVID-19 over a period of time.

    “The faster the infection curve rises, the quicker the local health care system gets overloaded beyond its capacity to treat people,” LiveScience explains.

    A flatter curve assumes the same number of people will get infected but over a longer period of time. That will put the health care system under less stress, fewer people have to go to the hospital on a given day, and you turn away fewer sick people.


    The New York Times adds that while the ideal goal is to end the pandemic completely, slowing it down is also vital. “This reduces the number of cases that are active at any given time, which in turn gives doctors, hospitals, police, schools and vaccine-manufacturers time to prepare and respond, without becoming overwhelmed.”

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    Community transmission

    Mitigation measures like social distancing can make transmission less likely. Johns Hopkins Medicine defines social distancing as “deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.” Examples of social distancing are canceling mass events, working from home, and talking to your loved ones through your electronic devices instead of visiting them in person.

    Understanding community transmission will make you appreciate how much good quarantine and social distancing can do during a pandemic. 

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), community transmission or spread “means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.” It occurs when a person is infected by someone who didn’t go to a place where the outbreak occurred. 

    On March 18, 2020, Philstar Global reported that according to the Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III, there is community transmission of COVID-19 in the Philippines. DOH Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire described the type of community transmission we have as “sustained.” According to DOH, sustained community transmission means there is “an increasing number of local cases whose links cannot be established.”

    In short, if you have no foreign travel history nor a known contact with a COVID-19 patient, then how did you get COVID-19? It will require contact tracing (where have you been, who was there) — find the person who may unknowingly be spreading it and to advise every person you encountered to take necessary precautions, whether he or she has the symptoms or not.

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    Being asymptomatic

    The CDC says COVID-19 patients are thought to be most contagious when they are symptomatic, meaning you manifest symptoms. If you are asymptomatic, you do not show any smptoms, which is more dangerous. You may be spreading COVID-19 without knowing it.

    DOH Undersecretary Vergeire said people who interacted with asymptomatic COVID-19 cases need to be quarantined, ABS-CBN News reports. “If you are in the same room and you are with the patient in the last 14 days, you are part of the initial contacts that we need to investigate,” she explained.

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    Quarantine and social distancing

    Self-quarantine, or keeping yourself isolated from other people by staying home, is a useful mitigation method for those who are asymptomatic “but were exposed to the sickness,” Cleveland Clinic explains. “A quarantine keeps them away from others so they don’t unknowingly infect anyone.”

    Keep people farther apart from one another lessens the possibility of transmission and slows the spread of the disease — you flatten the curve.

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