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If you haven’t been paying attention or you live on Mars, then you may well not have noticed there’s a nasty virus sweeping the planet… well, maybe not sweeping but it is spreading quickly. Panic is beginning to set in and face masks are flying out the door of local pharmacies. What most of the public haven’t realised is that there are probably more chances of catching the flu than catching Coronavirus, and that the flu can potentially kill more people. I’m not a doctor or have any training in medicine, apart from emergency treatment in minor accidents. But it seems to me that we humans are our own worse enemies and are simply stoking other peoples fears by running round like headless chickens and panic buying surgical masks.
Nobody seems to buy the masks during a normal flu virus season, and most don’t realise many masks are useless. Surgical masks are worn to protect the patient from catching a virus from medical staff, not the other way round. And let’s face it, you can easily catch the flu or Coronavirus just by touching a door handle an infected person has just walked through and then rubbing your eyes or nose with your hand.
In 1918 a pandemic hit the world, it was called the Spanish Flu. The Spanish Flu death toll has been estimated between 40 million to 50 million people worldwide. Some estimates suggesting more like 100 million. It was played down at the time because authorities decided enough death and destruction had been visited upon the world during World War 1. The war ended as Spanish Flu began to take hold in November 1918. As bad as that was, many people worldwide die from catching the flu every year.
About 200,000 people in the United States alone are hospitalised each year because of the flu. Of these, approximately 36,000 die. That’s 18% and that is every year on average. Seriously at risk from the flu are the elderly, the very young or people who have a weakened immune system, Coronavirus seems to infect a similar demographic.
In the northern hemisphere the flu season is during the winter months, October to February. The peak is in February and it ends around March when the warmer weather comes. So when we have cold weather we have a flu season. Coronavirus, though not the same virus as the flu, seems to be following a flu season pattern. This means if we are lucky in the northern hemisphere, Coronavirus should start to die out come the spring in a few weeks time.
As deadly as Coronavirus can be, 4 out of 5 infected don’t get very bad symptoms. Be aware, but don’t panic seems to be the best advice you can listen to.
Copyright © Tom Kane 2020