Flattening the curve: an issue of urgent (clear) education and individual and collective responsibility


I was pretty blase about the coronavirus until late last week when a few things jolted me from my complacency:


  1. First-person reports from Italian doctors
  2. the appeal from Toowoomba intensive care specialist, Dr Adam Visser, ‘If I have a bed for you.’ Toowoomba has seven intensive care beds for a community of 150,000 people. Looking to make it 25. If the spread is not contained they will not cope.
  3. conversations with people who are vulnerable themselves or who have someone vulnerable living in their home (I was surprised by the number, some of whose situations I knew nothing about)
  4. the appeal of the ABC journalist, Mary Lloyd  HERE


Basically, I became aware, if not educated. I learnt that, in order to avoid the tragic suffering of the people in Italy, where the health system is inundated, we (Australia) needed to delay the escalation of the spread of the virus, to buy some time to prepare, and to slow down the rate of spread so that our health system has the best chance of coping. To flatten the curve, as it has become known.


Many other media items have helped. Dr Michael Ryan’s (WHO) appeal for action to be urgent and immediate.


Here’s the Washington Post’s very clever simulator describing and explaining the spread: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/


Basically, it then became an issue of my responsibility in the face of our common humanity and in the interests of the most vulnerable in our community. What can I do? What must I do?


If you have found something useful – whether it be explanatory or even comforting – perhaps you could add the link to the comments section.


All the best to you and your families.



About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Bit like you Harmsy. The education is making the problem more apparent. I think we’ve done OK so far but the fighting over toilet paper and pasta makes me wonder about the “Aussie spirit”.

    The good news is that second hand Commodores have dropped in price to 100 rolls of two ply.

    Everyone probably has family members who we need to guard carefully.

  2. I liked the simulations from the washington post

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    Interesting times. We’re learning more about it every day and I have trust in medical science to analyse, debate and, if not solve, at least minimise the effects of the immediate problem.

    Beyond that, an economic depression seems likely as global supply chains are broken and stocks fall. The social effects now seen in Italy may become the new normal for a long time to come. This may work out for the better, who’s to say? Funny how cv dovetails with the resurgence of nationalism.

    I hope the AFL and NRL seasons go ahead, at times like this we need sport. It has always served as a glorious distraction from our daily woes. Though if the IoM TT, where deaths are expected, can be cancelled, what hope for football? Major team sports competitons around the world are being cancelled or suspended daily.

    As usual, I’m cycnical and guardedly optimistic. Maybe the worst of the panic, from supermarkets to stock markets, is behind us. That’d be a good start.

  4. Colin Ritchie says

    One of the things that will come out of this catastrophe is that people will need to take a good hard look at the way they live.

    To watch & see people scramble for basics in the supermarkets etc was both shameful & embarrassing, highlighting the fact how reliant we are on someone else to provide these necessities in life for us. And if the chain breaks down for whatever reason the result is calamitous.

    We will perhaps look upon individuals, groups, communities etc who live a self sufficient type life and acknowledge that maybe they are not so crazy after all, and we can learn from them and adopt some of their practices such as growing your food and so on.

    We live in our individual abodes and generally remain that way but I like the idea of more communal living. Neighbours getting together and developing veggie patches for food sharing, setting up joint power systems and sharing arrangements, the list is endless.

    I could ramble on forever here but a change is going to come there’s no doubt about that, and I believe that will be the biggest issue that will come out of this event, people will look at the way they live, and accept that changes need to be made. Exactly what, time will tell.

  5. Working in the health field i’m wondering where/how from here?

    Australia has started its response reasonably well, though there are glaring errors. Morrison’s Friday announcement on a Friday of a 500 crowd limit commencing on the Monday, though he was going to the rugby on the Saturday is an example of the mixed message going out.

    I feel our testing regime has been too slow. S Korea testing, 15-20,000 daily, we’ve just passed the 30,00 mark. An advertising campaign of the basics , like covering up when you sneeze, washing your hands etc, should have been rolled out a few weeks back.

    I’m not talking a World Government, but the inconsistency of responses around the world concerns . We have the World Health Organisation, experts in the field. For the sake of humanity does it not make sense for all governments to have all relevant decisions be determined/directed by the WHO? For the immediate well being of humanity it can’t be ‘business as usual’, we need some radical changes.

    The future is unwritten.


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