Here are lessons from China in 'flattening the curve' from coronavirus

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CNBC's Meg Tirrell takes a look at some of the lessons learned in Italy and China to "flatten the curve" in the United States.

The WHO has repeatedly underlined the importance of “flattening the curve” in order to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, calling on countries around the world to impose sweeping public health measures.

Since emerging from Wuhan, China, in late 2019, the coronavirus has spread to more than 150 countries.

To date, it has infected over 221,000 people globally, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, with 8,966 deaths.

The outbreak has been recognized as a pandemic by the WHO, prompting many countries to impose so-called lockdown measures in order to contain the spread.

“WHO continues to call on all countries to implement a comprehensive approach, with the aim of slowing down transmission and flattening the curve,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing Wednesday.

“This approach is saving lives and buying time for the development of vaccines and treatments.”

What is flattening the curve?

In epidemiology, the curve refers to the projected number of new cases over a period of time.

In contrast to a steep rise of coronavirus infections, a more gradual uptick of cases will see the same number of people get infected, but without overburdening the health-care system at any one time.

The idea of flattening the curve is to stagger the number of new cases over a longer period, so that people have better access to care.

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