Coronavirus good news: Decline in cases will be as quick as the rise

Exponential growth essentially means doubling over a certain period of time – in the case of coronavirus, this is between four days to a week. This means that if confirmed cases are 1,000 for example on a Monday, by around Friday they will be 2,000 and so on.

And while the infection rate in COVID-19 is rapid right now, particularly in Europe which has now been deemed by the epicentre of the disease, eventually the rate will plateau and begin to decline.

When it does decline, the fall in cases will be as rapid as the rise.

Seth Shostak, astronomer and mathematician, said: “The spread of the coronavirus will be exponential – which is bad. But its inevitable decline will also be exponential, which is good.

“In the case of the coronavirus, the growth in the number of infected persons will inevitably be exponential, at least for a while.

“That’s because the rate of new infections clearly depends on the number of people who are already contagious.

“The resulting tally of the infected will increase very rapidly – as is typical of exponential growth.

“Note that it’s not that the number is large, but only the behaviour of the growth rate that merits the designation ‘exponential.’

“And, as noted, that’s clearly bad.

“And since the number of new cases also depends on the number of infectious people (which declines as folks recover), that will also be exponential, but exponentially decreasing.

“Bottom line; While the bad news grows rapidly, the good news will also evolve rapidly.

“So let’s just hope that by invoking sheltering-in-place and other strategies, we can reduce the infection rate and cause the inevitable bell-shape curve of the number that are sick to turn over sooner.”

However, the peak in the UK could be some time away.

On March 12, England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said would reach the peak of its coronavirus outbreak in the UK in about 10 to 14 weeks.

He said: “If you move too early, people get fatigued. This is a long haul.”

The suggested timeframe means the number of infected would peak after the Easter break and could hit Britain hardest in the May half-term holidays.

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