Coronavirus News Asia

Covid-19 is not Ebola, so why the big fuss?

Countries locked down, 3 billion people confined at home, livelihoods lost and a global economy battered – is all this worth it for a pandemic considered far less life-threatening than the Ebola virus?

Ebola killed up to 50% of its victims. But it was not as contagious as Covid-19. Ebola mostly spread through bodily fluids like sweat and blood during its final stages.

People infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease) can transmit the infection one to three days before symptoms start to appear, says a study released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Unlike Covid-19, Ebola symptoms were so severe that medical officials could quickly identify and isolate those who had contact with victims of the disease.

“One coronavirus-positive person can infect 406 persons in 30 days in the absence of preventive measures like lockdown or social distancing, ” Indian Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal informed the media on Tuesday. “But with up to 70% measures in place, the number of infections per positive person comes down to a maximum of 2.5 people.”

It could be worse. A Covid-19 carrier in South Korea known as “Patient 31” transmitted the virus to more than 1,100 people in Daegu and Seoul as she merrily went about her daily life attending church and lunch buffets with friends.

Infection-reduction measures such as lockdowns, despite resultant economic costs, became unavoidable with the unique nature of Covid-19.

“You don’t have relatively healthy people with the [Ebola] virus walking around shedding the virus – going on the bus, going shopping, going to work – as we do with Covid-19,” Reuters quoted Dr Christine Johnson, a professor of epidemiology with USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT project, as saying.

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