Eight in ten people are now following the government’s coronavirus advice, according to the latest polling.The exclusive Savanta poll for the daily telegraph found that 83 per cent were following most or all of the lockdown rules, with half (51 per cent) of the population now said to be self-isolating. This is 15 per cent up on this time last week and although around half of people are now consistently working from home when they wouldn’t ordinarily – the figure hasn’t dipped below 40 per cent since last Saturday (March 21), we need those disobeying 17% to continue the spread of the virus so that herd immunity can be achieved without overwhelming the NHS.
Iceland, in line with some other nations, have tested many of their population and found that many of them have already had corona without even knowing it. Corona reached Iceland in February 2020, with 1,135 cases at 31st March, of which 173 have recovered and 2 have died. Iceland with a total population of 364,260 is showing that the infection rate is 1 case per 357 inhabitants which is one of the highest in the world, though this is attributed to more tests have been carried out per capita in Iceland than any other country. The response to the pandemic by Icelandic health authorities has focused on early detection and contact tracing and social distancing measures such as an ban on assemblies of more than 20 persons. As a member of the Schengen area, Iceland is restricting unnecessary travel by persons who are not citizens of the EU, the United Kingdom or the EFTA countries into the area but has not made other formal restrictions against international or domestic travel. Icelandic health officials have used voluntary home-based quarantines for all residents returning from defined high-risk areas and virus testing as the primary means of preventing transmission within the community. Icelandic health officials have tested a proportionately high number of arriving passengers from high-risk areas for COVID-19, with the hope that early detection of infections will prevent their spread. crucially — the testing also includes people who show no symptoms of the disease. Their effort is intended to gather insight into the actual prevalence of the virus in the community, compared with most countries who are most exclusively testing only symptomatic individuals. Early results from tests indicate that a low proportion of the general population has contracted the virus and that about half of those who tested positive are non-symptomatic, meaning that they have met the virus and didn’t even know, most of the remainder had only very moderate cold-like symptoms.
Mass testing on the scale adopted in Iceland is unlikely to be feasible across larger countries, but in Italy, localised testing has occurred and has provided evidence revealing that a significant portion of those who catch the disease do so with no or mild symptoms — and confirmed multiple pieces of research that have shown that spread occurs largely via individuals who don’t display symptoms. In the small northern Italian town of Vo, one of the communities where the outbreak first emerged, the entire population of 3,300 people was tested — 3% of residents tested positive, and of these, the majority had no symptoms. The population was tested again after a two-week lockdown and isolation. Researchers found that transmission was reduced by 90% and all those still positive were without symptoms and could remain quarantine.
Tests have found that for every confirmed case of the virus there are likely another five to 10 people with undetected infections and that these often milder and less infectious cases are behind nearly 80% of new cases. Analysis of data from China as well as data from those returning on repatriation flights suggesst that 40-50% of infections are asymptomatic or have a mild reaction similar to influenza. Current models suggest that infectiousness occurs more quickly in symptomatic individuals and that they are more infectious than asymptomatic ones.
The World Health Organization has urged countries to test more suspected cases: “You cannot fight the fire blindfolded, and we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected”. The real solution is to test for the antibody, because if you have the antibody you’re no longer capable of being infectious and you can then resume life as normal as you can’t spread it.
In China, they’re giving people Green Health cards via their phone apps which allow people to go back to work and to travel internally as essential workers; however many countries are Looking at Corona Antibody carriers being given phone-app passes which verify an antibody presence and therefore no carrier or infection risk, with built-in security to allow officials to scan the QR code and see that the green-light Health card has actually been given to that person because it displays their photo and name, but only to authorised officials. This is something that is under active consideration in the UK and with the proviso that if you don’t want to carry the green-light Corona Health card, then you have the right not to but then you must continue to obey the lockdown, and coupled with a huge fine for carrying someone else’s green-light Health card. The app would allow users to remove it from their phone after the crisis is over. The concern in the UK is whether there are enough officials to check people out and about and carrying the card; however it is also thought that a volunteer group. like the NHS volunteers, could be created from Green Corona Health card holders (who are not at risk of catching corona or passing it on).
South Korea, one of the countries first and worst hit after China, quickly put in place the most aggressive testing regime in the world after a cluster of a few dozen cases in early February exponentially ballooned to almost 5,000 cases by the end of that month. The country now has the ability to test about 20,000 people a day. A diagnosis takes about five to six hours and patients usually get results within a day. 268,000 South Koreans have been tested for the virus — about one in every 200 citizens, according to South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha.
After surpassing 8,000 cases, the number of new cases is now smaller than the number of those fully cured. The South Korean foreign minister told the BBC that testing was key. “Testing is central because that leads to early detection, it minimises further spread and it quickly treats those found with the virus,” she said. “That is the key behind our very low fatality rate as well.” The data from South Korea is in stark contrast to countries like the UK, where there is currently no community testing of people with symptoms self-isolating at home. The government is under mounting pressure to do more.