Flattening the curve refers to a strategy used by countries around the world who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to try and slow its spread. The curve provides a visual representation of the number of people who have been infected by COVID-19 over a given period of time; the steeper the upward curve, the more people who have been infected over a short period of time.
The curve is used to try and identify when the number of people who need to use a healthcare system is currently higher than the healthcare system’s capacity to treat them. Flattening the curve means slowing the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic so that healthcare systems are not overwhelmed.
Successful flattening of the curve relies on techniques such as an initial lockdown and effective social distancing measures. The curve’s visual peak and then subsequent downward trend suggests that techniques are working – the trends of the curve will be different in different countries.