Corona – Phases Blue – Yellow – Orange, how should we be consistent?

Author: Manu Steens

In phase blue, there was a lot of talk about individual hygiene measures. (This is about washing hands and at the same time singing “happy birthday” twice, not giving hands but an elbow strike or a Vulcan greeting, coughing in your elbow, …) Since phase orange, the term ‘social distancing’ has been expressly formulated. This clearly marked the transition from personal measures (individual hygiene) to collective responsibility (keeping a distance). This distance can be done in several ways, such as telework, a shift of the working hours, or skipping a chair at meetings (and therefore only use half the capacity of your meeting room).

The idea behind this is always that of the Gauss curve. If there is a high spike in infections, health care capacity problems will arise. After all, there are often too many sick people with regard to the number of hospital beds, with regard to the available equipment and with regard to the number of care providers, the hands that keep you alive on that hospital bed. However, there are measures to deal with such peaks: the personal and collective measures mentioned above and much more. However, you only know when the peak has been reached, when it has passed (and the number of infections has fallen). So the idea is to flatten the peak to prevent hospitals from getting into trouble. That is currently the aim of any measure. Each measure helps when applied.

How serious is the disease actually? A large percentage of infected people are simply sick at home. They lie in bed with a cup of tea, read a book and watch Netflix. However, a smaller percentage of fragile people need to be helped in the hospital. Most critics had some medical problems before they were infected with the coronavirus. (For comparison: flu causes about 500-1000 deaths per year in Belgium.) What are the measures of social distancing now doing?

Seven known basic factors that have an impact on the spread of the virus are:

  1. Where many people gather, the virus can easily spread. So: avoid places with a lot of people.
  2. Intensity of contact: an intense hug is more contagious than Vulcan salute, especially if you keep a distance of 2 meters.
  3. Duration of the contact: are you going to put a card with friends for a few hours, or party all night with a lot of friends? That is worse than borrowing an egg from the neighbors.
  4. The place where you are: poorly ventilated areas stack the virus more easily than a well-ventilated flat.
  5. The age mix of people: a school full of young people is not as bad as the grandchildren visiting the retirement home, especially when it gets busy.
  6. Support for measures: the government must be able to explain it. After all, interference without insight leads to pronunciation without prospect.
  7. The “delayability” of an activity: can you postpone it until after the epidemic / pandemic? Then you can no longer get infected.

Following these seven principles throughout the phases takes us very far. If we are extremely consistent in this, at least, and everyone thinks along with us about how things can be improved.

Manu Steens

Manu works at the Flemish Government in risk management and Business Continuity Management. On this website, he shares his own opinions regarding these and related fields. Since 2012, he has been working at the Crisis Centre of the Flemish Government (CCVO), where he has progressed in BCM, risk management, and crisis management. Since August 2021, he has been a knowledge worker for the CCVO. As of January 2024, he works at the Department of Chancellery and Foreign Affairs of the Flemish Government. Here, he combines BCM, risk management, and crisis management to create a tailored form of resilience management to meet the needs of the Flemish Government.

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