I keep hearing people and also colleagues say that the coronavirus is “as dangerous as a normal flu”. But this is not true. We are dealing with a virus that is much more contagious and also much more dangerous. A person infected with the flu infects between 1.4 and 1.8 other people on average depending on which flu virus we use for comparison. A patient infected with coronavirus infects two to 3.11 other people on average. We are dealing with an exponentially growing epidemic. Every 3-4 days the number of registered cases doubles. Let‘s look at the WHO figures, which are very well presented here on the Worldometer page. We see the cases outside China here. On March 8th, we had 29,256 cases and four days earlier – one, two, three, four – we had 14,905 cases, which is about a doubling interval of four days. And how does this look in Austria? Here are the figures for the last few days. On the 4th of March, we still had 29 cases and on the 9th of March these had already risen to 157. Let’s calculate the doubling interval: the 4th of March to the 9th of March, that is 5 days. On the 9th of March we had 157 cases. On the 4th of March there were 29. Which means that 157 is equal to 29 times 2 to the power of x where x is the number of doubling intervals. If we now solve the equation for x, we get 2.44. That is the number of doubling intervals that are in these 5 days. So if we want to know how long a doubling interval lasts, we have to divide 5 by 2.44 and we get a doubling interval of 2.1 days. So it seems that the virus doubles faster here than in the rest of the non-Chinese world. We certainly have a small number of cases in Austria and the statistical variation is therefore higher. However, these figures are anything but encouraging. If we assume a doubling interval of 3 days, as described in other literature, 4 million Austrians could already be infected in 45 days. Here, herd immunity would probably be achieved and the epidemic would then decrease again. This of course, is only provided that we continue on as before and act as if this were a perfectly normal flu. So, if we do not help to extend the doubling interval, then in 18 days we will have more cases than there are currently in Italy. Today is the 10th of March and there are 9,172 cases there. In only 18 days! Now how does the disease progress? We know from literature that 81% of infections with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 are mild. These people can be cured while staying home. 14% are severe and need a hospital bed and 5% are critical. These 5% need intensive medical care, i.e. a bed in the intensive care unit. Let us see how many hospital beds there are in Austria. According to the Federal Ministry, there were 67,000 hospital beds in Austria in 2018. And how many beds are there in the intensive care units? According to this publication we have 23.4 intensive care beds per 100,000 inhabitants in Austria. So 23.4 intensive care beds per 100k population. Austria currently has 8.8 million inhabitants. So 23.4 times 88 makes 2059 intensive care beds, which apparently exist in Austria. But these beds are currently not all vacant. Most of them already have patients in them. So if we assume that we can only free 50% of these beds, i.e. about 1000, for COVID-19 patients, when will we reach our limit? In about 21 days, after that we will have 1000 critically ill COVID-19 patients in Austria as long as nothing changes in the doubling interval. After that there will be no more beds for the critically ill patients. These patients will be infected within the next few days. The incubation period of COVID-19 is 5.2 days on average up to about 14 days at most in most patients. If we draw this into our curve here, we see that the coming week will be extremely critical for the course of the epidemic in Austria. The first patients who are no longer able to get an intensive care bed will become infected in the coming days if we do nothing to prevent it. Now I’ll talk about probably the most important picture of the whole epidemic. The left curve shows what happens if the epidemic continues unchecked. There will inevitably be an overload on the health system. The mortality rate would then go far beyond the described 2.5% at this stage because we simply cannot operate and offer adequate health care. The right curve shows what happens if the correct measures are taken, if we practice hand hygiene, avoid group gatherings, work from home, and do not travel unnecessarily. Then we can manage to delay the epidemic so that it does not lead to an overload of the health care system. Only if we succeed in this can we keep the mortality rate low.