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How does staying inside save lives?

by Kirsty Benton

Let’s assume you have the virus. If you’re normally fit and well, you may not even feel under the weather with it and there’s no way to know without testing.

If you leave the house and meet your friends at a coffee shop, you can pass it on. If it was the normal flu, you would pass it on to 1.3 people. If those people then went to a friend’s house and passed it on, and then their friends passed it on, and so on, after that has happened 10 times, 14 people would be infected.

COVID-19 is much more infectious. In that coffee shop you would infect 2.5 people. That doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but they each infect 2.5 people and so on. After 10 levels of transmission, that coffee break with friends has resulted in the infection of 10,000 people.

You may be well, your friends may be well, but some of these people are going to get very sick. 500 of those people will need Intensive care level treatment at your local hospital. No single hospital can cope with these numbers. An overwhelmed hospital, with finite beds, ventilators and healthcare staff, will not be able to provide such high-level care to every person who needs it. This means that some people will not get the support they need to survive. We’ve seen this in Italy. We need to learn from these exact challenges they are facing there every day. So, we need to slow the spread. We all need to make short-term changes to our routine. The little sacrifices we make today will save the lives of your family, friends, neighbours and NHS workers.

When isolation ends in a few weeks or even months time, if you think that was all for nothing, then it has done its job and stopped the impact on you and your family. Stay Home. Save lives.

*Disclaimer: The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and these numbers are a best estimation based on current statistics.

Hi I am Kirsty. I am an NHS Junior Doctor working in Critical Care. I am collaborating with LWL to help share medical facts and cut through some of the misinformation on COVID-19. Give me a follow at @expeditiondoctorkirsty and drop me a message if you have any questions.

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