This is not our first epidemic. In the 21st century I saw the actions to spread Foot and Mouth from spreading in South West England. Dartmoor was closed and precautions were taken to protect animals. We also lived through the BSE crisis, i.e. Mad cow disease.
From 2002 we had the SARS outbreak and that was our first taste of a pandemic. During this time we disinfected our desks before every shift and at the end of every shift. We washed our hands and then we disinfected them. We built the habits that we would then keep for life.
In 2007 and from 2013 to 2016 and from 2018 to present we have had Ebola outbreaks. We have also had a number of plague outbreaks.
In 2009 We had the Swine flu Pandemic.
COVID-19 is at least the third such pandemic this century. During SARS we should have picked up all of the habits and protocols that would be required to cope with the current pandemic. What strikes me about this pandemic is that we knew about China for a month or two and we knew about how badly Italy was hit very quickly. In light of this, we not only knew that this strain was virulent, but that it was very close.
In theory, everyone should have known the protocols to follow. Avoid big groups, wash your hands, avoid public transport and more. If people had followed the lessons we learned from SARS and Swine Flu then we could have seen the flattening of the graphs two or three weeks ago, rather than now.
When I saw the graph this morning it made me happy for the first time in days. A flattening graph means that people are following appropriate measures to stop the spread, in five European countries, for now. We still have to be very careful.
This channel 4 video explains why this virus is so dangerous and the one below explains how to deal with social isolation. I am currently reading Pandemic by Sonia Shah. It explains R numbers in more detail.