Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter

MEASURES put in place by Government can “flatten the curve” and help in eliminating new Covid-19 cases.

Flattening the curve refers to using protective practices to slow the rate of Covid-19 infection so hospitals have room, supplies and doctors for all of the patients who need care.

Adhering to the measures put by Government such as social distancing and restricting travelling will help to achieve what is known as flattening the curve which basically champions reducing how quickly the virus spreads so that it is manageable. 

A steep rise poses problems for a country as cases will overwhelm hospitals and health personnel while flattening the curve staggers the number of new cases over a longer period and makes the situation manageable.

Bulawayo City Council director of health services Dr Edwin Sibanda said curve flattening is the idea that society can actually be able to slow the rate of infection for contagious diseases by taking measures like closing schools, businesses or staying at home as is being promoted by Government.

Dr Sibanda said public health measures such as social distancing, washing of hands, self-isolation by those who might be having symptoms were necessary in flattening the curve. “We, therefore, need interventions to stop people from transmitting the disease. That way you reduce the number of cases and the burden on the healthcare system which might be overwhelmed and fail to respond like in a case where you are told we need 200 ventilators,” said Dr Sibanda.

“Most hospital will be having ventilators and ICU beds in proportion of the beds in a hospital. In Zimbabwe, there is no hospital with more than 20 ICU beds. 

“You will note that ICU is reserved for a few but with these major admissions, you need ICU beds and obviously the system would be overwhelmed and the trick is you then need these measures and that is how the curve is flattened out.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has repeatedly underlined the importance of “flattening the curve” in order to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

“The whole goal of everything right now should be to cut transmission and to contain the virus as good as possible because the health systems globally cannot cope with a fast or quick or strong influx of many cases at one moment in time,” WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier was recently quoted in the international media as saying.

“Hence we need to slow down the curve and slow down the spread and try to spread it over time as good as possible so that the health system can cope and production of vital medical equipment can cope.”