Because of the coronavirus outbreak spreading around the globe, climate action leader Greta Thunberg called on her supporters to observe a #DigitalStrike instead of attending in-person weekly climate protests this Friday.
Thunberg has based her #FridaysForFuture climate strike movement on a demand for governments to "unite behind the science" put forward by experts in order to drastically reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the climate crisis. The teen climate activist issued a similar call to her supporters as she asked them to help reduce the spread of the virus.
"We can't solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis and we must unite behind experts and science," Thunberg said in a statement on Instagram and Twitter. "This of course goes for all crises. Now the experts urge us to avoid big public gatherings for a better chance to flatten the curve and slow the spreading of the coronavirus."
Thunberg used the hashtag #FlattenTheCurve in her message, referring to a chart based on CDC data showing that in communities which fail to implement safety measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, the daily number of cases will skyrocket in a short period of time.
We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis and we must unite behind experts and science.
This of course goes for all crises.
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) March 11, 2020
As Common Dreams reported last month, Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch says it is "plausible" that COVID-19 could spread to up to 70% of the global population, but would likely be mild in most people—and slowing down the rate of infection would help the majority of patients to recover safely.
"I personally recommend that we do as the experts say. We young people are the least affected by this virus but it's essential that we act in solidarity with the most vulnerable and that we act in the best interest of our common society."
—Greta ThunbergThe rapid spread of the virus would overwhelm public health systems, the chart shows, as hospitals in Italy are reporting. Cases of the respiratory disease in the country more than doubled between Friday and Tuesday, with nearly 900 people in intensive case as of Wednesday, according to the Financial Times.
"If we're not able to prevent widespread transmission, we want to prevent explosive transmission and anything that overwhelms the healthcare system," former CDC director Tom Frieden told Vox.com.
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Public health experts say that if communities put in place precautionary measures—such as closing schools, enforcing work-from-home policies, and canceling large gatherings—the spread of COVID-19 can be expected to slow, with public health facilities able to offer better care to patients, particularly those who are elderly and medically vulnerable.
"I personally recommend that we do as the experts say," said Thunberg. "We young people are the least affected by this virus but it's essential that we act in solidarity with the most vulnerable and that we act in the best interest of our common society."
Thunberg asked activists to share their support for climate action on social media instead of in large gatherings.
"You can join the #DigitalStrike for upcoming Fridays—post a photo of you striking with a sign and use the hashtag #ClimateStrikeOnline!" she wrote on social media.
Medical experts applauded Thunberg for urging vigilance in the grassroots movement she began in August 2018 with a one-person school strike outside Swedish Parliament.
"Sound advice from Greta Thunberg," tweeted Aoife Molloy, a physician at the U.K.'s National Health Service.
— Aoife Molloy (@DrAoifeMolloy) March 11, 2020
"Keep your numbers low but your spirits high and let's take one week at the time," urged Thunberg.