Why is there so much panic around coronavirus?
There’s panic and there’s panic. The important message to get about COVID-19 is you’ve got to separate your individual risk from the population at large.
The issue here is if a lot of Australians or in any country get COVID-19 then a lot of people will die. The individual risk, the risk to you of dying is zero or very, very low indeed, but the numbers could be potentially large.
So if one million people in your country get the virus then 5000-10,000 people will die. Because the mortality rate is probably – in an advanced country – about 1 percent. That is a lot of people. But the individual risk is low.
The thing here is we’ve got to change our individual behaviour to protect the community at large, and by protecting the community at large, we are protecting ourselves as well. Because what is going to happen here is if too many people get it too quickly and get too sick our hospitals will be overwhelmed. And that means that other people, say with cancer who need a cancer operation or a person with heart disease who needs a heart operation, in other words the regular work of hospitals will come to a halt. So it won’t just be the people dying that have COVID-19, albeit large numbers, but small risk of each individual, more people will be dying of other diseases because our hospitals won’t be able to treat them. So it’s kind of a mushroom cloud of effects around this epidemic. So it’s not worth panicking for you individually but we’ve all got to change our behaviour to protect each other.
Last Reviewed: 04/04/2020
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