Are we flattening the curve?


Like everyone else, we’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information – and fake news – about the coronavirus online. Everyone has an opinion, not to mention the conspiracy theories and the “cures” that don’t work.  

It’s hard not to constantly check the numbers of new infections and the tragic death toll from the coronavirus. Trying to understand these figures can add to the anxiety that many people are feeling.

We’ve found this interesting article that explains a simple way to monitor the spread of COVID-19, and to see whether we’re managing to flatten the curve here in SA. It’s based on a simple formula: the number of new infections today, divided by the same number from four days ago.

Why four days ago? That’s because the incubation period for the coronavirus is about four days on average. Doing this calculation gives a number (R for rate of infection) that shows how well our social distancing measures are working. Another way of looking at this number is to think of R as representing the number of new infections caused by one infected person over four days.

We’ve adapted the graph slightly to smooth out the results by using a variation that looks at the value of R over the 4-day period. To save you doing the maths, check out the live graph.

The blue line shows how R is changing each day, and the orange line shows R at exactly 1. That means that the number of infections is the same from day to day. If R is less than 1 (when the blue line is below the orange line) the number of infections will start to fall significantly.

On the other hand, if R is higher than 1 (when the blue line is above the orange line), then the number of infections will rise dramatically. If R is 2, for example, new infections will more than double every four days.

The lockdown and social isolation are tough in lots of ways – financially, socially and personally. Life as we knew it has been turned on its head, and even with the slight lifting of restrictions that President Ramaphosa has announced, we’re still some way from things getting back to normal.

But at least we now have a way to make sense of the coronavirus numbers – and we can see at a glance how well we’re doing in terms of flattening the curve. We hope it will help motivate everyone to stay strong, and keep doing the right thing.

Like almost every industry, online shopping has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis and the lockdown. Despite that, we’re doing our best to help our sellers continue to provide essential goods, and to make it easier for buyers to get what they need. Our contactless delivery options mean fewer trips to the mall or shops – and that’s one of the main ways we can all stick to the social distancing guidelines.

Less contact between people means less danger of infection, which will help keep that blue line on the graph down and give us our best chance of beating the coronavirus. The lower we can make R, the sooner we can get our lives and the economy back on track.

Stay safe!