COVID-19-What do you mean by “flattening the curve”?

COVID-19-What do you mean by “flattening the curve”?

When studying how infectious diseases are, epidemiologists look at specific parameters of risk, namely:

  • The transmission rate (the number of people who can be infected from a single case)
  • The fatality rate (the number of deaths seen)
  • Whether transmission of the infection is possible whilst showing no symptoms at all

Without any Public Health interventions to slow the spread of COVID-19, there is risk of a large spike in infections in a short period of time. This can overwhelm the health systems in place; also increasing the number of deaths as a consequence. Therefore, to slow the spread of disease (‘flatten the curve’) to a rate at which the healthcare systems can cope, the introduction of certain interventions is crucial. Some of these measures include:

  • regular hand-washing/ sanitising
  • physical distancing (only leaving home for essentials such as food or medicines)
  • using the telephone for communication instead of meeting in person
  • disinfecting household surfaces and commonly used objects (phones, door handles, surfaces etc.) regularly
  • If you do go out, maintain a safe distance of 2 metres (3 steps) from others


Remember! Anyone can get COVID-19 and the infection can spread rapidly. Follow Public Health recommendations and protect yourself, your community and your healthcare system.