South Africa: Maths and Artificial Intelligence Can Help Us Decide When to Lift the Lockdown

(file photo).

Mathematical theories on how to manage decisions where the variables are unknown or only partially known may help us in re-opening our economy and easing lockdown restrictions.

It was reported at the weekend that Vietnam had recorded its first case of the transmission of the coronavirus after 100 days, when a 57-year-old man in the city of Danang tested positive. The discovery of the new case came as a shock to citizens and the government alike, according to The New York Times, and many people have reportedly cancelled travel plans in central Vietnam, a popular destination for domestic and foreign travellers.

Vietnam, one of the world's few remaining communist states, has been among the most successful in the world in containing the virus, largely attributed to the public embracing the wearing of masks. As of July 25, the country had reported 416 cases and no deaths. Its last known case of local transmission was in mid-April.

Here in South Africa, precautions have also been put in place to "flatten the curve". Yet, there is great ambiguity in what it means to flatten the curve. Is this when recoveries outnumber the infection rate? According to epidemiology, flattening the curve is slowing...

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