COVID-19 has been spreading all around the world and has overwhelmed the health systems of the most developed countries. Stealth transmission of the disease and asymptomatic carriers allowed the disease to spread so fast and affect hundreds of millions. The death rate of COVID-19 is estimated to be only 2%. However, with the large number of people affected by the virus, the death rate is projected to be in the millions.
Prevention is better than cure they say but with COVID-19, prevention is the only option. To make you understand how critical it’s to put all the preventive measures possible in place, let us discuss how things would unfold if the disease was already here. As we all know the disease spreads fast so thousands would be affected. Fortunately, 81% of that affected would only get a mild form of the disease and are likely to recover. 14% would need oxygen therapy while the remaining 5% would need Intensive Care Unit (ICU) treatment. Of those critically ill, most will require mechanical ventilation. The health system in our country is already stretched thin and a pathogen like coronavirus can quickly overwhelm it. To elaborate on how fragile our health system is, below is a quick insight into it.
- Medical Services – There are governmental and private hospitals that do provide medical services to the public.There is only one governmental hospital in each region and the services, medical drugs and the supplies available are the worst compared to other privately owned hospitals. These privately owned hospitals are very few and are mainly situated in the capital city. The owners of these hospitals are unlikely to allow for treatment of COVID-19 patients in their hospitals. Even if the government takes over by force, no medical staff would show up to treat patients.
- Medical Supplies – As was previously mentioned, 14% of patients would require oxygen therapy and 5% would need mechanical ventilators and admission to the ICU. You would think oxygen therapy would atleast be available but guess what. O2 therapy is very scarce and in most of the hospitals where it is available, patients pay for it. Mechanical ventilators, on the other hand, are also very few and are estimated to be about 100 in the whole country. These already scarce supplies aren’t just available for COVID-19 patients. Most of them are being used to treat other patients so the number available at any given time would be a fraction of the total number.
- Medical Personnel – Well-trained medical personnel in the country are very few and despite the fact that many of them would like to help and be in the frontline, circumstances and the resources available might not allow them to do so. No soldier goes into war without his rifle, helmet, or bullet proof vest. Expecting a soldier to go and fight without that would be insanity. This is a war and doctors and nurses can’t go fight without the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and most would decline to help. If that makes you think medical personnel are being selfish and they would rather run than save lives, you are mistaken. If doctors, with no protective gear, are infected while s/he is in the forefront of the fight, s/he will start spreading the disease to other patients or other healthy individuals necessarily joining the enemy, not fighting it. The medical staff, with time, will be eroded and the disease will continue to take its toll on lives. If you are told to go to a war that you certainly know will be defeated, will you participate in that war or would you run to safety while you can? The disease, regardless of what we do, will take its course so the logic here is why go to the frontline and kill yourself.
Novel coronavirus has no cure and with poor medical services, shortage of medical supplies and the medical personnel having no suicidal intentions, COVID-19 is a death sentence for the majority of the 19% that would need hospitalization. This war is inevitable and there are no tactics or heroism that is going to get us out of it and to survive, PREVENTION is the only solution. No one knows if the virus is here. Let’s just hope it is not and put strict preventive measures into practice from this second on.
*The number of ventilators available in the country is only a rough estimation made by health workers who worked or is currently working in different big hospitals.
*This article was published on 28th of March, 2020. The data and the statistics used in this article are up to date and numbers might change as we learn more about the disease.