COVID-19 — Know when it’s Over

To start with, I’m no medical expert nor a doctor and if you are going to ask me, “When did you become a medical expert?” — well, given the recent interest with the spread of this COVID-19 virus, I did some research myself out of curiosity, does that make me a medical expert? Well, well, let’s just listen to what my thoughts are, and I will let you decide that for yourself.

If you have been watching the news lately, by now, you know. Despite the efforts of the government and media is putting through to get the people to cooperate to overcome this pandemic; how the people are acting, They are trying to escape the quarantine process, playing hide and seek with the police, some traveling around the country, some organizing cricket tournaments and so on and on. Given the current situation in Sri Lanka, related to COVID-19 and given the rate of spreading of the virus; Let’s hope we will be able to keep the situation under control. Just take a peek into the following analysis by some resource persons and organizations which will provide you with the current status.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

As the saying goes, the best we can hope is to contain the infection within the quarantined zones. But as the statistics suggest, we are likely looking at a significant outbreak unless the government invokes some strict action to control the outspread. Until that, the best cooperation we can provide as responsible citizens is to consider ourselves already exposed to the virus and follow self-quarantine procedures as much as possible.

How long do we have to stay this way?

Here comes the inevitable question; it’s human nature to be ignorant, selfish, stubborn, and not follow the instructions. But if you are someone who is taking this situation seriously and looking forward to seeing and end of it, you are not alone.

Currently, we are recording patients from different areas of the country continuously every day. I will spare the unpleasant details of how the number of the patient will hit the J curve and all that. I truly wish and hope that the situation will not come to that. By now, there are claims that a cure is already available, and let’s hope that we get our hands of it real quick.

The “Happy” Ending

Let’s assume we don’t have the cure and let’s weigh our possibilities. Hopefully, it will come down to a situation where there will be no more new patients recorded for 14 days. Where did I come up with this magical number 14? Current studies show that the incubation period of the virus to be between 1–14 days and the average being 5. I would like to stay on the safe side, hence 14. Let me refer and quote my source.

The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1–14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

Source: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

Please note that this number is provisional and will be subjected to modifications as studies continue. So let's take the incubation period of the virus to be X for the sake of explanation.

So once there are no more patients recorded and assuming that no unrecorded COVID-19 patients are at large, then all we have to deal with are the patients who are in quarantine. Once the doctors ensure that all the patients are cured, they will have to remain in quarantine for X more days to make sure that nobody catches the virus again in the last minute or somebody else gets infected at the final stage of curing. That’s when technically we can be sure that there are no more COVID-19 patients in the country. So if I am to put up a simple graph:

I know this is easier said than done. But I have faith in our medical professionals and all other professionals who are up to the task, exhausting themselves even as we speak. Of course, this scenario is only possible based on the assumption that the country keeps closed to any outside visitors during this period. But if that’s not the case, we will have to implement a thorough process to screen and monitor all the incoming and outgoing personals to the country to make sure that we don’t let the virus enter the country once again. As we speak ICTA — Sri Lanka, with the help of the IT community, has taken the initiative in developing a system to keep track of and monitor individuals to help the government contain the situation.

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