Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Key Arithmetic

Based on interviews given yesterday, Dr Giammattei seems to be suggesting a spare capacity of around 20 ICU beds in the capital right now. 

The average number of new cases over the past few days is taking us to a new level of around 1000 a week. Of these approximately 100 will develop a more serious form of illness, around half with the so-called long-tailed set of symptoms and another 50 or so requiring hospitalisation, though depending on the stage at which they were diagnosed, it could take a week or so for them to reach that critical moment. 

Some of those already in ICU will die or recover, but 50 into 20 doesn’t fit, so it’s not hard to see how we reached this new, rather desperate stage of containment.

These numbers are very rough and will be skewed by the fact that the country is still only really testing the symptomatic. (This appears to be about to change, with a plan to hisopar more people employed in the rump of the retail sector.)

During one radio interview the President spoke almost non-stop, without hesitation, for almost an hour, never appearing anything other than resolute and as well-informed as the experts other so-called leaders have surrounded themselves with. 

As a sort of medical-political hybrid, he seems far more willing to talk about the epidemic in unambiguous, even if occasionally ‘anecdotal’, terms. 

The trouble with the briefing format favoured in the UK and the US is that it immediately establishes a sort of tennis match between two competing forms of uncertainty (or indeed equivocation) — the political and the scientific.

Anyway, if the eventual new normal here in Guatemala involves fewer deschongues, I’m on board with that. 

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