If you really love me, don't come in. Be a superhero, stay at home

A year and six months ago, the first COVID-19 positive cases were reported in our country. Since then, much has been said about how we can put a stop to this new virus. Unfortunately, some still think that SARS-CoV-2 is a simple cold and that the World Health Organization exaggerates when talking about its easy spread.

Las Tunas, Cuba.- The truth is that each one of us has an important role in the spread of coronavirus outbreaks and high potential in making this pandemic much worse. Why? Because SARS-CoV-2 is more contagious and deadly than the flu; one person can easily transmit it to others without knowing it, and they, in turn, will transmit it to others, creating something akin to a snowball effect.

The good news is that just as it can be transmitted so easily, it can be prevented if you are willing to stay home. That is right: just by sitting on your balance sheet or couch at home, you could be saving lives.

Let us say that one person with coronavirus transmits it to three more (some experts say that three is the average, although the Delta variant of the virus has an average of 8), thus generating a nightmare for the Public Health System that affects thousands. However, let us also consider that this same person mitigated this effect by social distancing, staying at home, and avoiding unnecessary queues. Thus, this individual was able to deprive the virus of the opportunity to infect a larger population.

A striking real-world example of this phenomenon is the woman known as Patient 31. There were only 30 cases of Covid-19 in South Korea until, in February 2020, she became infected and began to spread the virus without realizing it. Despite having a fever, she ate with a friend at a hotel and attended religious services, coming into physical contact with many of the worshippers. Within days, hundreds of people in and around the church tested positive for COVID-19.

How would you like to be patient 31 and feel responsible for the lives of those close to you? I am sure you would not.

So even if you are young and healthy and falsely believe that the virus cannot kill you, it can! You would do well to stay home to protect others, especially the elderly and those with a depressed immune system, who are at greater risk of dying if they contract Covid-19; as well as Health Care workers who are exposed to the risk every day.


Hugh Montgomery, director of the Institute for Health and Human Performance at the University of London, broke down the math in an incredibly clear and simple way.

To determine how contagious a disease is, experts use the basic reproduction number, called R0. This refers to the number of people someone sick will infect on average in a group that does not already have immunity. The higher the R0, the greater the likelihood that many people will get sick.

The R0 for the common flu is 1.3. Therefore, if you get the flu, you will transmit it, on average, to 1.3 people. Montgomery calculates that if each of those 1.3 people transmits it to 1.3 others and that keeps happening 10 times, then by the tenth time, 14 individuals will have the flu.

However, the coronavirus is more contagious than the regular flu. Scientists are still trying to figure out the R0, and in any case, it is not something that is precisely fixed, since diseases behave differently in different environments and some inhabitants (known as "super-diffusers") are more contagious than others.

Nevertheless, the World Health Organization states that most estimates of the R0 of coronavirus are around 2 or 2.5; while some estimates put it at 3.11. Montgomery uses an R0 of 3 to do his analysis.

"Each person passes it on to three, now it doesn't seem like a big difference, but if each of those three passes it on to three more and that happens in 10 layers, it's been responsible for infecting 59,000 citizens," he says.

Montgomery's math simplifies reality somewhat; for example, he assumes that everyone in the 10 layers of transmission will be susceptible to contracting the virus, while some may already have immunity. However, his basic argument stands.

Moreover, the conclusion he reaches at the end is crucial: "If you are irresponsible enough to think you don't mind contacting the coronavirus, remember that it's not about you, it's about everyone else."

While it can be really hard to act altruistically when the beneficiaries are so invisible-after all, you won't be able to see the grandparent or nurse you've kept from getting sick-you should know that the benefits are real.

Every day that you practice social distancing during the pandemic you will be doing a great favor for another human being (perhaps hundreds or even thousands). Staying home is the easiest act of heroism.