Re: IETF 107 and Corona Virus?

John C Klensin <> Thu, 13 February 2020 22:16 UTC

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Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2020 17:16:17 -0500
From: John C Klensin <>
Subject: Re: IETF 107 and Corona Virus?
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--On Thursday, February 13, 2020 13:07 -0800 Scott Weeks
<> wrote:

> novel-coronavirus-infection.html
> As of February 8, 2020, 7 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus
> (2019-nCoV)  have been confirmed in Canada.  Areas in Canada
> with confirmed cases 
> Province            Confirmed cases
> Ontario                 3
> British Columbia        4

> 2016 population = 4,648,055


With the understanding that I'm not making any recommendation
(here or in my earlier note) other than (i) if there is any
reasonable possibility that the meeting would be canceled, that
should be done earlier rather than later and (ii) that we not
pretend that refunding the registration fees of those whose
visas are denied covers the potential costs to participants who
make arrangements to attend and then are forced to cancel...

First, in the interests of statistical accuracy, that population
figure is for British Columbia, not all of Canada, and the
population of British Columbia last year is estimated at a tad
over 5 million about half of whom are in the Vancouver metro
area.  That obviously strengthens your case if you are trying to
make a comment about percentages of the population around
Vancouver: even 4 out of 2 1/2 million is a rather small number.

On the other hand, the very nature of a significantly contagious
and epidemic disease (both of which have been assumed at this
point but some experts have claimed neither has been proven) is,
in the absence of effective mitigation techniques and almost by
definition, exponential.   If one made the (silly) assumption
that those four people would affect others exponentially for the
days between now and the start of the meeting, the entire
population of the province would be infected in under 12 days.
If one assumes that containment and mitigation are 50%
effective, i.e., that only two of those four succeed in
infecting others, it takes around 22 days which is still lots of
time.   Those number are certainly not predictions and they are
silly for many reasons, but my point is that "four people
confirmed as infected as of February 8 out of a five million
population" tells us little or nothing about the likely state of
things on March 21.  Not good, not bad, just nothing.