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What Does “Flattening The Curve” Actually Mean?

17 March 2020

If you’ve been on social media lately (and chances are you have, because what else is there to do during self-isolation?), you’ve probably seen the term ‘Flatten The Curve’ everywhere. Whether it’s tacked on as a hashtag after a celeb PSA, at the centre of a tweet by your favourite meme account or posted by one of your friends, the idea of flattening the curve is everywhere. But what does it even mean? In short, it’s one of the most effective ways to stall the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), even if you’re not at risk yourself. Let us explain.

What is flattening the curve?

Right now, the main concern with COVID-19 is just how far it will spread and when it will hit its peak. Then, will healthcare systems worldwide actually be able to cope? Right now, like the graph above shows, healthcare systems are likely to be overwhelmed. That means, more people would get the virus worse because there aren’t enough supplies to go around.

Flattening the curve describes all the simple measures we as individuals can do to bring that pink line down. Doing so will be a massive relief for doctors, nurses and those most at risk of feeling the worse effects of COVID-19.

According to Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor, it’s the idea that we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting all unnecessary interactions with others. Choosing to stay in or work from home will prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed with people presenting symptoms and being possible vectors for the virus.

Or if you’re more of a visual person, the epic Laura Brown reposted this vid that is doing the rounds on Insta:

Okay, but how can I flatten the curve?

It’s simple: stay home. If you don’t need to be out and about, don’t be. Stay inside and catch up on that reading list or teach yourself a new signature dish. Sure, you were probably looking forward to a night out with the girls on Saturday. But, there are plenty more Saturdays to come. Self-isolation is not forever, it’s for now.

Another thing you can do is practice social distancing. Try to avoid unnecessary contact, wash your hands regularly, don’t touch your face and for the love of God, stop panic buying necessities we all need. Loo roll holders, we’re looking at you.

This all sounds a little dramatic

Yeah, choosing to stay in over hanging out with your friends can seem daunting, especially if you’ve already been working from home this week. But, given the fact people without any visible symptoms of the virus can still transmit it, and the reality that symptoms can take up to 14 days to show up, there’s every chance young, healthy-looking people are unknowingly infecting others.

You’re not staying home for yourself. You’re staying home for your grandparents, your loved ones and other people in your community who may be at greater risk than you are.

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So, stay in when you can, there’s plenty of quality Netflix content to keep you company and in the wise words of Ariana Grande, your hip hop yoga class can wait.

Wash your hands, Emma Roffey