How much climate change is connected with the emergence of Covid-19?
As climate change experts, we always check a risk with climate change lenses. For the global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, two primary questions come to the front. How much climate change is connected with the emergence of this new disease? And what strategies available to fight against Covid-19 and its secondary risks?
Climate change and Covid-19
Covid-19 is a newly discovered coronavirus that results in respiratory illness. Though the emergence of new infectious diseases was not linked to global warming, the shifting of demographic, social, and economic conditions have been important drivers of viral disease variability where climate change plays a very important role (R Zell et al, 2008). Primary and secondary effects of climate change can pose serious health problems that can trigger respiratory problems and other chronic diseases. Vectors, pathogens and hosts each survive and reproduce within a range of optimal climatic conditions: temperature and precipitation being most important (M Rios, 2009).
Strategies to tackle Covid-19
Globally everyone has to make the conscious effort, to do their part in stopping the spread and prevent further casualties. How can we make a proper mixture of strategies to slow down the consequences is the ultimate question? This article will dive into some of the possible strategies that can be adopted.
There are three types of strategies that can be taken to halt the growth of this virus. These include; a countries containment strategy, mitigation strategy and relief strategy.
Firstly, containment strategy, it is related to the number of daily interactions per person. If we can reduce the number of daily contacts, then infectious people would not likely infect others. Eventually, the infection rate will slow down. Home quarantine and lockdown is the manifestation of this policy in the real context.
Secondly, mitigation strategy, the patients with the deteriorating conditions need to be hospitalized and treated very effectively so that the recovery time for a hospitalized patient becomes as short as possible. Delaying in the recovery phase in the hospital would put people under more risky conditions by accelerating the decline of the susceptible population. So timely treatment with better care is a prerequisite for controlling the pace of the disease. The capacity of hospitals within their current capacity to treat a certain number of Covid-19 patients is very important to allocate the increasing number of patients every day.
Thirdly, relief strategy, we do have a traditional relief strategy that becomes active after any disaster. The very basic difference between the past and present is that you cannot be a carrier while doing the noble task of distributing reliefs. It has been observed that a sensible number of relief distributions is done with better precaution but that is still not enough. Another aspect of the traditional relief work is to identify vulnerable people whose livelihood will be impacted most. In other kinds of disaster, people get affected at a few particular places whereas during Covid-19 its pervasiveness is distributed among all. Both the people living below the poverty line and extreme poverty line will have a tremendous secondary effect that needs to be isolated for the efficiency of relief distribution. The learnings from this pandemic will hopefully encourage the government to realize the essence of having a real list of vulnerable people to ensure that help is received by the people most in need. Better coordination and timely outreach of relief to the most vulnerable would be a very big challenge that our country has to coordinate and manage carefully.
Arriving at 100 and 1000 Covid 19 positive
Here in the table below, the global scenario of Covid19 cases is analysed, briefly summarizing how many days or intervals it took for both developed and developing countries to cross their first 100 and 1000 infected cases.
There are two immediate implications of the above table- panic at the community level as Bangladesh approached 1st 1000 infected patients as of 14th April 2020 by 38th day from the initial first confirmed Covid positive patient. To prevent the number from increasing the risk needs to be addressed properly and efficiently, therefore the effectiveness of containment, mitigation and relief plans will play a huge role in this.
Where should we focus more?
Let's take a look at the following table to design a proper mixture of strategies from data-
As of April 12th, 2020, if you look at the above districts it seems every district is very close in terms of poverty distribution. Therefore, our cognitive experiences tell that containment, mitigation, and relief strategies should be equally distributed. Okay, just hold on! It seems that, the secondary effect due to lock-down, the poverty-stricken districts should get priority with the relief. Covid-19 will not be effective in that way, Jhenaidah is having a lower percentage of poor people, absence of outbreak will not affect much as the other two districts. Gaibandha and Chandpur have the same level of poverty but different Covid-19 cases. Therefore, should we pay an equal priority in both districts? The answer is no. Population density will lead to high contact rate to spread out the disease in Chandpur very fast. Therefore, the containment strategy should be much stricter there.
It is quite evident that we cannot take a one size fits all strategy. With the learnings from this article, let's try to mix up the strategies considering population density, livelihood dependency, the prevalence of poverty and positive cases to Covid-19.
Ashraful Haque is a system analyst. He has been working as Senior Research Officer at ICCCAD. Currently, he is coordinating a multi-disciplinary expertise group called FOREWARN Bangladesh.
This story is a part of Covering Climate Now’s week of coverage focused on Climate Solutions, to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Covering Climate Now is a global journalism collaboration committed to strengthening coverage of the climate story.