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Robert WalkerRSS Feed of this column.

I'm Robert Walker, inventor & programmer. I have had a long term special interest in astronomy, and space science since the 1970s, and most of these blog posts currently are about Mars and space... Read More »


I often get asked - “How long is this COVID19 pandemic going to last?”. The answer, according to the WHO, is that it is up to us. We can stop this. The only question is whether we will. Most countries in the world are acting vigorously to stop it with rigorous case finding, contact tracing and isolation. But the UK and, sadly, Netherlands have decided to follow another direction.

This can only be stopped if all countries are in it together, and for just one country to depart from this strategy means the virus will continue in that country and reinfect the rest of the world, at least until we have a vaccine, a year to eighteen months from now.

COVID19 can be stopped. China has nearly made it go away completely. China had no new cases even in Hubei yesterday (17th March). It had four cases only on the two previous days - and it's only getting a few cases from other countries.

South Korea has nearly got rid of it, down to less than 100 a day for several days after a peak of over 1000 a day.

China peaked in early February and has been declining ever since.

If you add all cases over the WHO "West Pacific" region of South Korea / Japan / Singapore / Malysia / Indonoesia then it had its peak of cases two weeks ago.

Here is Dr Tedros demonstrating how to wash your hands for COVID-19 protection in the "Safe Hands" challenge

(click to watch on Youtube)

He is challenging others to do the same and upload videos of themselves doing it.

Please share this widely, to put pressure on UK to go back to the contain phase for COVIDー19, and potentially save thousands of lives: Many in the UK have been scared and appalled by Boris Johnson’s statement that “many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.” Distinguished experts are also shocked and outraged by the UK's decision to stop containing COVID-19, stop detecting mild cases, and just use social distancing to delay it as it spreads through our population.

The WHO have said many times that governments can stop this disease by containing the virus swiftly and aggressively. Their most recent statement was the most blunt yet. They declared a pandemic, but one that we can stop. They said the question is not whether we can, but whether we will. Many governments have demonstrated this by doing it, including China, South Korea and Singapore. As Dr Tedros, Director General of the WHO put it:

The challenge for many countries who are now dealing with large clusters or community transmission is not whether they can do the same – it’s whether they will.  

Summary: This declaration of a pandemic does not mean that we should say the fight is over - that would lead to unnecessary suffering and death.

With every press conference, the WHO have called on countries to take urgent and aggressive action and this hasn’t changed.

More than 90% of the cases are in just four countries (Iran, Italy, SK and China). Two of those four countries have significantly declining cases (South Korea and China)

81 countries have no cases yet, and 57 have 10 or less.

All countries can still turn the tide on this virus, even ones with community transmission or large clusters. Several countries have shown the virus can be suppressed and controlled.