Women wearing masks Image Credit: Gulf News archive

The latest defense against the COVID-19 is “flattening the curve” and here's what the term means.

As people take measures to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus, a simple chart graph has gone viral which explains how to control the scale and speed at which the outbreak occurs.

The "flattening the curve" chart illustrates the wave of new coronavirus cases expected to spread in a particular place. The height of the curve represents the number of positive cases and they are likely to result in death. A low curve means coronavirus is spreading slowly, which gives medicals professionals the time and resources to treat more patients and save more lives.

Therefore, the goal is to “flatten the curve”.

What does it mean?

So what does that mean exactly? Healthcare professionals from around the world are being called on to help reduce the cases and flatten the curve so medical facilities can cope with the number of people being admitted. The graph takes into account that cases will inevitably occur but a reduced rate will help authorities cater to those infected.

The chart was shared On Twitter by Drew Harris, a population health analyst at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, US. Harris took a graphic originally created by journalist Rosamund Pearce, which was based on another chart in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) paper.

Harris drew a dotted line onto the chart, showing that the smoothness of the curve could be the difference between treating the disease and health care providers struggling to cope with the demand for help.

It summarises the importance of taking measures to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Now, people are taking it upon themselves and calling it a “social responsibility” for people to make lifestyle changes in order to limit the spread of the deadly disease.

social media users are asking people to practice social distancing and isolation, and the hashtag #FlattenTheCurveMany social media users are asking people to practice social distancing and isolation, and the hashtag #FlattenTheCurve trended online.

Actor Kumail Nanjiani, @kumailn, highlighted the importance of staying away from crowds during a pandemic: “ Italy two weeks ago. Please don’t go to restaurants and bars. Stay away from crowds. It’s our responsibility to protect those in at risk groups. We are definitely going into lockdown but we can help #FlattenTheCurve.”

Twitter user @LAVEESHA_ shared a video from Ireland and wrote: “Good to see quiet streets on my walk to work today. #dublin #flattenthecurve”

Tweep @AngrierWHStaff shared a 12-second clip that demonstrates the concept of social distancing: “If you don’t understand how social distancing helps #FlattenTheCurve, watch this. ‘The one who left, saved the rest.’”

Twitter user @rosannecash wrote about how she is doing it: “I got home off the road last night & am self-quarantining until the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US] gives the all-clear. I was on a lot of planes & in a lot of airports, hotels & venues. I don't know if I've been exposed, & I don't want to expose you. Let's do this together, apart. #FlattenTheCurve”