Coronavirus: My old father

Yesterday I called my father again. He lives in a Senior House in Linz at the age of 80. The nurses have recently been wearing masks and he no longer receives visits. He also does not go shopping to the nearby supermarket any more.

“What do you think, how long will it take?” he asked me at the beginning.

“You know, dad, the mathematicians’ models are pretty precise. Incidentally, they come primarily from the Vienna University of Technology, where you also studied.”

“Yes, and I have very successfully completed statistics there.”

“Yes, there you see. As long as the virus has an infection rate of above 1, the numbers are increasing. We already had 4, which was enormous. Now we are at 2, which is still much too high, the double. The goal is to get below 1 in the next two weeks and towards 0 in the long term. The critical size is the number of intensive care beds.”

“Yes, I understand that. But what I don’t understand is: Why do I need an intensive care bed if I die of it anyway?”

“You don’t necessarily die of it. The mortality rate is sometimes less than 1 percent. That means the chance of survival is 99 percent. But the lungs need oxygen to defeat the virus. And if you are the 101st patient with 100 intensive care beds then it gets nasty. In Italy the mortality rate is already around 10 percent. “

“Then we’ll cancel your April visit.”

“And please don’t go to the supermarket either.”

“Yes. Okay.”

“I recently read about a 101-year-old man who survived the Spanish flu as a child, the Second World War as a young man and now the Coronavirus. He is healthy again.”

“That’s great.”

“Stay healthy!”

“Yes, you too!”

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