On Tuesday, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry issued a press statement calling for businesses to close at 7pm and to practice social distancing.
The statement is as follows:
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) takes the opportunity to thank the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) for its COVID-19 updates, as well as the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) of Georgetown for working in conjunction with the GCCI.
There have been a number of articles and interviews discussing the rate of spread of COVID-19 and the measures that the population can take to slow the spread, or, “flatten the curve.” To that end, the GCCI would like to share some pertinent information with the public. According to “The Math Behind Social Distancing”, both the method and the timeline of the intervention taken can make a huge difference.1
The article makes reference to a graph from BMC Public Health 9, 117 (2009) which shows that the potential outcomes range between 7% and 60%. The difference between the two is that 60% of the population will be infected if nothing is done. In contrast, it was noted that only 7% of the population will get infected if all possible measures are taken within a 1-week delay of the start of the outbreak. It is important to note that the 60% bound is related to an assumption that for a virus such as the coronavirus, which has a reproduction (R0) of around 2.5, it would require 60% of the population to be infected in order to achieve herd immunity. Essentially, this means that 60% of 750,000 people, or, 450,000 people would have to be infected to achieve herd immunity. It must also be noted that it can be expected that 2% (900,000) of the infected persons will die.
(For more information on the topic of herd immunity, refer to the article written in the MIT Technology Review: “What is Herd Immunity and Can it Stop the Corona Virus?” by Antonio Regalado2).
Based on the studies conducted, it is increasingly clear that we should practice social distancing and practice it early. Social distancing can reduce the spread of COVID-19 significantly. Recognising that the M&CC has stated that it does not have the authority to enforce the closure of businesses, the GCCI calls on the business community to voluntarily practice social distancing, establish measures for hand sanitizing, and for restaurants, bars and liquor stores to close at 7 p.m. The GCCI recognises that this is not a normal situation and thus, it requires abnormal solutions until we can gain control of the spread of the disease. The Chamber remains willing as ever to work with the authorities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.