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A look at the math behind social distancing amid coronavirus

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By now, Canadians are well aware they should be practising social distancing amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

And there’s math behind the idea that cancelling plans, working from home and limiting interaction with others will eventually, ideally, help end the pandemic.

One graphic, created by University of California San Diego assistant professor Robert A.J. Signer and art director Gary Warshaw, shows how it works.

Signer explained to Global News that the calculations were based on initial research from officials around the world.

“There is a universal logic to this,” he said, noting that the exact numbers may vary from country to country, especially as research is done.

The infographic shows how one person who is asymptomatic for five days and doesn’t practice social distancing can spread the virus to 2.5 people.

“Initial studies have suggested that one person infected with coronavirus can transmit the virus to approximately 2.5 people,” he explained.

Signer added that initial research also shows those who tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, were asymptomatic for an average of five days.

“The next assumption we made is that after five days, a person will begin experiencing symptoms, will quarantine and no longer infect others,” he said.

If one person transmits the infection to an average of 2.5 people, and those 2.5 people each transmit to another 2.5 people and so on, within 30 days, 406 people would be infected.

The graphic then shows what would happen if people limited their social interaction by 50 per cent — an infected person would only transmit the virus to 1.25 people. In 30 days, 15 people would be infected.



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