This new virus is all over the news and to tell the truth, it is not going to stop infecting and affecting the world in the near future. There are already so many stories and urban myths going around it can be confusing, everyone seems to have an opinion and there are many questions to be asked. Who should I listen to? Will it affect me? Will I catch it? Will I die from it? Will we run out of food? Why should I care? These are just some of the questions going around. Here we will try and answer just a few important ones and reinforce some of the good advice going around. After all, most of our group members and/or carers are at risk for one reason or another. I suspect there are many that will bury their heads in the sand and ignore the subject, telling themselves “It’ll never happen to me” or “It won’t be that bad”. However, perhaps it is a good idea to pay attention and at least give the subject some consideration. The reason, that’s simple in one way or another it is going to have an effect on us all.
Honestly, you probably will catch the virus sooner or later as it appears to be highly contagious. Our government is currently doing all they can to slow it down. This is to enable our NHS (to hopefully) empty beds over the next few weeks time as the weather warms up. This, in turn, should help reduce demand for these beds and give the NHS the capacity needed during the summer if it turns out to be as serious as some suspect it will. The truth of the matter though is it is highly unlikely the government or anyone else will stop the virus. Best estimates are currently at least 68% of the population will catch it no matter what. Although medical scientists are working faster than ever before, it is doubtful that a vaccination will be ready before late summer at the earliest.
The current signs you should be aware of according to the NHS are
- a cough
- a high temperature
- shortness of breath
The word is enough to switch many readers off, however, don’t stop reading as this crisis is definitely going to affect you and your wallet or purse! World markets are already erratic, to say the least. China has almost stopped production of many goods. Do you have any idea of how much they make that we use? India has just started restricting some of the ingredients that make paracetamol. That, if nothing else should make you sit up and pay attention. I should make it clear I do not advocate panic buying, I do however suggest it would perhaps be wise to stock up a little. It will be impossible to do this with fruit, veg, milk, etc however an extra few tins of beans, stuff for the freezer and a few extra paracetamol tablets is probably not a bad idea. I’m not sure about fuel but personally I am making sure the car is at least half full at all times, just in case.
Not every kind of possible protection is either a good idea or works. Facemasks, for instance, do not constructively help at all! At best they might stop someone else getting the virus if you cough or sneeze in their direction however they will not protect you. If you were to be completely covered up in one of those protective suits, looking a bit like a spaceman, you would be ok, but most facemasks are probably worse than having nothing at all as they sort of work for about 15 minutes and then get contaminated themselves (assuming Covid19 or some other virus is in the air around you). Use of a mask means the virus is then directly in contact with the most vulnerable part of your body, your face. Unfortunately, many of the masks that have been bought by the general public are only dust masks and can have no positive effect at all under any circumstances. In short, just don’t bother they are a waste of money.
Washing your hands
This is not going to guarantee you will not catch the virus however it is one of the most effective ways of reducing the odds. When you are in your safe space (i.e. your home) then it is unlikely there will be a lot of people touching things and increasing the odds that the virus could be hiding on a surface. However, if you are out in the big wide world, people touch all sorts of things, doorknobs, rails, money, etc. The virus can stay on these for an hour or two (scientists best guess) before dying. Just think how many things you have touched today and once touched if you eat, drink, rub your nose… you get the point. This is why doctors give the advice ‘regularly wash your hands’.
You should always wash your hands as soon as you get home before you touch anything else in your safe space. If you are out and have touched anything that could be contaminated, it’s a good idea to use an alcohol gel rub on your hands, especially if you might touch your face or are about to eat. Most of this is common sense, however, ‘most things’ often don’t occur to us during everyday life. To win this war, we all need to be germophobes!
We should really mention soap and such products here. When washing with soap, current convention is lots of soap for as long as it takes to sing happy birthday twice. Nothing replaces soap as it gets rid of dirt and grime. There is a good argument though to also use an alcohol gel or foam afterwards (the sort of dispenser you see in hospitals with the seven red circles and a big red dispensing button). This is the final killer blow to any viruses or germs. There is a bit of a warning here though. We have seen reputable sources selling gels and foams that have been watered down. They must have a 60 -80% alcohol content to be effective so don’t buy a cheap or unknown brand and don’t get conned! BTW regular use of gels and foams may dry out the hands so get some moisturizer!
You might be interested to know that we have already installed measures at our main base for visitors with hospital type dispensers for alcohol foam and soap. In addition, we have also ordered a Viral hard surface cleaner especially our forthcoming Coffee morning on Friday. Although perhaps pushing the point to extremes it means all main surfaces including our food and drinks preparation worktops will be spotless. Important seeing as there are more than a few at risk in the group.
A tissue, a tissue we all fall down
The saying is said by many to have come from the great plague 1665/66. Humans have been bothered by germs and viruses since the beginning of time. Coughs and sneezes are just part of everyday life until they become serious. Just be aware to cough or sneeze into a tissue if at all possible. Bin it and then wash and sterilize your hands. If you don’t, the next thing you touch will be covered in … icky!
Hugs and Kisses
The French and Italians have both instructed their amorous populations not to hug or kiss when greeting others. They are also foregoing their customary two kiss greeting. It has to be said that it is not an unreasonable suggestion. Everything though is a matter of balance (and whether you just might be on a promise tonight!). The Brits have taken a slightly less stringent approach and currently say we should just consider not shaking hands.
Am I at risk?
Statistically young people are both unlikely to catch the virus and if they do it will probably affect them little more than a common cold. This ramps up though. The older you get and consequently less healthy, you are at a greater risk of both catching and dying from the virus. A major part of the problem revolves around children go to school and catch things and then merrily pass it on to all at home. So if you have kids make them wash their hands when they come home. In short, teach them to protect you and yours.
‘Don’t and panic’ are the keywords. The most important thing to realise is the virus is unlikely to do very much harm to at least 97% of the population. Some medical experts think it is closer to 99%. Probably the most devastating things that will happen to many is that events with large attendances will get cancelled. The Olympics, Football, Rugby, F1, Tennis may all end up only being televised to reduce contagion rates. The same goes for music festivals, cinemas, theatres, concerts. Numbers of people going on flights and trains are already starting to drop dramatically if fact at the time of writing this article Fly-Be have announced they are in trouble. A smart person will find benefits though. Some holidays are going to be really cheap. Staycations like canal boating and walking in the wilds are likely to get much busier and more expensive so perhaps you should book them now.
There are more than a few out there that think this crisis will not apply to them or that they are not at risk so why should they care. If you are young and of good health, the risks are ridiculously low. However if you are in contact with anyone older (perhaps a granny or a grandad), or that has a health problem or both then your actions put them at risk even if you are not. Perhaps we should all think in the terms that MURS, SARS and Ebola are way more deadly in % terms. Covid19 is way more contagious. What happens if this latest virus was to mutate or the next one inherits far more lethal properties? Perhaps this is our chance to learn lessons before that can happen. It does give one serious pause for thought!