Near misses and pandemic advice

Near misses and pandemic advice

Mar 24th, 2020

Today we will tell you our experience of Near misses and pandemic advice.

Near misses and pandemic advice

But first of all, we hope this blog-post reaches all of you and your Families healthy and serene. Let us know of your experiences and how you are doing.

Travel experiences at the beginning

I was in Italy until February 25th after completing several intercontinental trips. There I saw the beginning of the contagion take place. Indeed, Italy was already taking some protective measures then.

Then my wife and I landed in two international airports where people were having fun and drinking beers like if nothing was happening in the world. A strong contrast with the serious Italian attitude.

We had a coupe Gin & Tonic hoping the higher alcohol percentage would “sanitize” us.

In those days, no one was showing yet the contagion curve, with its amazing similarity from country to country and that infamous 30% to 40% per day progression. Yet we were seeing already how seriously contagion affected China and Italy. The buzzword “flatten the curve” was not born yet.

Near misses

We just learned that we actually had three near misses with COVID-19. It was the matter of days or hours. Corona virus could have hit us:

  • on our intercontinental flight to Vancouver, via Iceland,
  • in a restaurant in Vancouver and finally
  • at Whistler-Blackcomb.

Thus, the decision we took three weeks ago to “live in isolation” was more than justified. COVID-19 is rampant. Obey the rules and STAY HOME!

The Italian experience

Those two countries were indeed in truly uncharted territory in those days. Canada, the US, Latin America lagged behind. Furthermore Central European countries, Spain, the UK felt still “safe” as they were nine to fourteen days behind in the contagion curve.

  • The brunt of the Italian contagion was South East of Milan. Authorities cordoned off the “red zone” . People within the area stayed at home, but the neighboring areas, including Milan, did not alter their behavior. They felt “safe”.
  • By March 20th the North East of Italy (Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto) totaled 88.7% of the casualties. Indeed, inhabitants massively drove to the nearby seashore (Liguria) to enjoy the fair weather. Liguria is now a hot spot at almost 3%. Finally,
  • the Italian authorities then locked-down the country. Hours before the lock-down, while it was still legal to travel, many people jumped on a train heading South, to see their parents. Now many areas, easily reachable by hi-speed train in the South of the peninsula are hot spots. Marche, Lazio, Puglia, Campania have 3.4% casualties of the total. Always remember there is delay between death and contagion, so the number of actually infected people is bound to rise in those areas, of course dependent on population and other factors.

Traditional distrusts plays a role

The traditional distrust of the Italian population toward the government played a role as well, as did a well rooted national culture of disobedience. Regions of Italy were people are known to be “quieter” and prone to abide rules and codes are showing remarkably lower rates of contagion. Notable examples are:

  • Piemonte, where despite the proximity to Lombardia the deceased were only 2.2%, and
  • Friuli-Venezia Giulia  where despite the proximity to Veneto the deceased were only  1.1% of the total.

STAY HOME works! There are many regions, including the islands like Sicily and Sardinia (0.1% each), where the rate of deceased was not, March 20th, above 0.4% total.

Mortality and “flattening the curve”

The factors above are playing a role in the contagion and the final result in terms of death toll. However, one comment is paramount. Italy belongs to the top five countries in the world in terms of longevity (1 Hong Kong, 2 Japan, 3 Switzerland, 4 Singapore, 5 Italy).

Among those five it is the country with the highest COVID-19 casualties.  Also, even if we do not have statistics, Italy is certainly the “most affectionate” country. Think about hugging, kissing, social proximity within and outside the family. That affectionate behavior is also the reason people traveled to reach their family before the lock-down. Thus, it seems that if one puts together an older and vulnerable population with and affectionate behavior one gets a recipe for higher mortality. As a result the mortality is higher than in the other “top five” countries. And that is despite the unanimously heroic effort of the medical profession in Italy and despite the government decisions. KEEP your social distance!

A few more notes

  • Singapore has launched an application on March 20th that allows tracing people and their contacts;
  • S-Korea delivers smartphone alerts in case of “near contact” with COVID-19 positive patients and finally,
  • Israel is following path with tracing and alerting 

All the measures above are of course paired with testing and quarantines.

We sincerely hope that other countries, other people, our colleagues and friends draw the necessary lessons from the Italian and other countries experience. Do not lower the guard. If in doubt, look at the numbers above!


The “unprecedented” myth

We could name this section “the Black Swan” myth. Our readers know what we think about Black Swan.

In these last days, weeks we have seen plenty of politicians talk about this COVID-19 as an unprecedented event. They all talk nonsense, to cover prior inaction. Sure it is true that this is the first time we have 7.5B people on this planet. However, many talked about such a scenario. Indeed, even small countries like Switzerland, to cite one case we know, studied it in detail and came out with astonishing realistic, proven now by facts, estimates.

Incidentally, the probability estimate given by Swiss authorities is very informative and in very good agreement with our simplified estimate at 2.5% annualized.

If a risk study foresaw a very credible probability and yielded estimates of the financial consequences, one cannot talk about unprecedented, Black Swan event. But one could talk about criminal negligence.

Closing remarks

If there is interest from our readership we could discuss in a future post how to use the legal negligence test. The idea is to evaluate preventative governments actions. Remember that the legal negligence test is not a public acceptability test.

Let us know!

Keep safe, STAY inside, keep fit, have a glass to cheer with us to the wonderful future we could build if we cooperate.

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Category: Crisis management, Hazard, Risk analysis, Risk management, Uncategorized

One response to “Near misses and pandemic advice”

  1. Gianrita Celotti says:

    Grazie mille
    In attesa del prossima articolo

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