[Published: 20th March 2020]. So, coronavirus is very definitely a thing. It has all-too quickly gone from something we talk about as being far away elsewhere to now being increasingly in our local neighbourhoods. It is affecting all of our lives, and it is not going away anytime soon. If anything, things are going to get much worse quite quickly.
What do we know and what should we be doing?
Life has to change, which is unsettling, but that is no reason to panic.
Coronavirus is simultaneously a wake-up call, a mirror and an opportunity. How we react to it and come out of it might just shape our societies for generations to come. So, do not panic.
Take a breath and try to incorporate the advice below (hygiene, social-distancing, self-isolation – HSS) into your life, and then help others around you who might be panicking to do the same.
Practice good hygiene
Whether you had it or not, or think you may have had it, practice good hygiene, especially handwashing. Wash your hands as often as needed and not just when you’ve been to the toilet or are sitting down to a meal. Now is the time to be extra vigilant about any encounter with a person or a surface which could transfer coronavirus to you.
As much as you can, minimise the in-person contacts you have with others. If you are single and live on your own, this will be far easier than if you have and live with family or flatmates. This does not mean that you cannot leave your home – you can, for purposes of work, exercise or grocery shopping so long as you can maintain a 2-metre distance from others.
Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it. However, if you are or have people in your life who are 70 or older, or have pulmonary or auto-immune conditions or are pregnant you and they likely need to social-distance from each other because they have a higher risk of infection. This will be difficult and, in some cases, if you live with them – impossible, but we need to try to find ways to support each other remotely.
This is why social-distancing is essential: you are not just protecting yourself from infection, you are protecting those you love and many others from being infected by you carelessly wandering around and acquiring the virus to pass onto them.
If ill, self-isolate
If you have any of the symptoms, then you need to take social-distancing to the next-level and self-isolate to your bed or a room. If you live in a house or flat with only 1 toilet, 1 bathroom and 1 kitchen then you need to implement a cleaning protocol that likely seems comically over the top but is necessary to maintain the slim chance that you won’t infect anyone else in the house.
Oh, and no going out for you or those who live with you – unless it’s your garden and it’s empty.
Is there a vaccination or some other treatment?
No, there is no vaccination, and there won’t be one for likely 12-18 months (Nov 2019 being the starting point), as that is how long it usually takes to develop and test one.
If anyone tells you that we will have a vaccine within a few months, they are lying to you or science has broken new ground and I have some magic beans to sell you.
Stop being persuaded that things will be fine within weeks. We will be in this for many months. This is our new normal. Get used to it.
Flatten the curve
So, if a vaccination or some other virus killer is not yet available, then what is the point of doing the 3 (HSS) activities above? Ok, let’s not have a grubby argument about hygiene – you don’t really want to go public about your dirty habits do you? With social-distancing and self-isolation what we are doing is trying to prevent public health services (in the UK – our beloved NHS) from collapsing – we are trying to flatten the curve, as below.
NOTE: we will likely have to flatten the curve (a month or 2 at a time) more than once until we have a coronavirus vaccine.
What we are doing now – hygiene, social-distancing, self-isolation – none of it ends coronavirus.
All we are doing is slowing the progress of the virus. To beat it we have to immunise society.
We immunise society via a coronavirus vaccination (as of publish date 20-Mar-2020, we don’t have one)
We take it on the chin (19 seconds into the video below) and let it rip through the population hoping that we gain herd immunity (i.e. enough people contract the disease and recover, developing an immunity to it in the process to protect those who do not).
That could work, but coronavirus has an estimated fatality rate of 1 per cent. If the needed 60 per cent of the UK population became infected – some 40 million people – that could equate to 40,000,000 x 0.01 = 400,000 – yes, you read that right: 4 hundred thousand deaths.
Next time someone floats the idea of herd immunity without a vaccination programme in place with you, ask them if they think 4 hundred thousand deaths is a reasonable number to risk and which of their family and friends, and your family and friends, they would like to include in that number
So, Hygiene, Social-distancing and Self-isolate (HSS) are our new normal. Get used to it.
Have I got coronavirus?
What are the symptoms?
Officially: If you have a “new, continuous” cough or high temperature, then you may have coronavirus and you should stay at home for 7 days (UK govt advice). The World Health Organisation, WHO, recommends 14 days (I trust WHO). Anything that feels more than a 3-day cold could be coronavirus.
Recent research: Almost 60% of people who tested positive for coronavirus reported loss of smell and taste.
If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.
This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious.
Do NOT go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital – you will at best, waste the time of them and you, or worse you will be risking infecting others with a disease that could kill.
Also, you do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home. The govt does not seem to be interested in identifying everyone who might have the coronavirus – you might think this (contact tracing) would be useful information – so do I.
If you think you’re coming down with something, then treat it as you would the flu so long as you are not 65 or older or younger than 2 years of age.
- You’re sick — and very contagious, so stay home and get plenty of rest – self-isolate as much as you can – and have people keep their distance
- Drink lots of fluids – water, fruit juices, sports drinks, soups; it doesn’t matter what – keeping your respiratory system hydrated protects your lungs and prevents the spread of infection
- Got aches and fever? Good, your body has turned up the heat to fight off the flu virus. Treat them with over-the-counter medications like Paracetamol or Night Nurse – anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen may aggravate coronavirus. Ask your pharmacist for advice if uncertain
- If you’re over 19, you can take aspirin but don’t give it to anyone younger. It’s linked to a condition known as Reye’s syndrome, a serious illness that can damage the brain and liver
- Take care of your cough. Over-the-counter treatments can calm your hack. Try an expectorant, which turns mucus into liquid so you can cough it up. Don’t give over-the-counter cough or cold medicine to children under 4
- Sit in a steamy bathroom or boil a pot of water, take it off the stove/hob and put it and your head under a towel
- If you’re still stuffed up, sit in the bathroom with the door closed. Let the shower run hot until the room fills with moist steam. Sit away from the water to avoid burns
- If the air in your house is dry, a mist humidifier or vaporiser can moisten it to help ease congestion and coughs. Don’t use a warm mist because it can promote the growth of bacteria and molds. Also, make sure to keep the device clean to prevent mold development
- Try a lozenge/cough sweet – sucking on soothing lozenges will moisten and coat a scratchy throat. It may quiet your cough, too
- Get salty – saline nose drops or sprays are available over-the-counter at most pharmacies. They work, they’re safe — even for kids. Put several drops into one nostril, and gently blow the mucus and saline out. Repeat the process on the other side until both are unblocked
- Ask your pharmacist for an antiviral
- You take these drugs as soon as symptoms start. Call your doctor if you have signs of the flu and are at a higher risk for complications. That includes people who are 65 and older or those younger than 2 years of age. It also includes those with certain chronic conditions including problems with lungs, heart, kidney, liver or a weak immune system
- Call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Earache or drainage from your ear
- Pain in your face or forehead along with thick yellow or green mucus for more than a week
- A temperature 100.4 F or higher in an infant less than 3 months of age
- Temperature higher than 102 F in older children or adults
- Hoarseness, sore throat, or a cough that won’t go away
- Shortness of breath
- Symptoms that get worse or won’t go away
- If, after 3 days, your symptoms are getting worse, then call your GP (doctor). Call emergency services for trouble breathing or increased shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion, seizure, fainting, extreme fussiness in a baby, or trouble waking.
Does self-isolating make me immune
No, self-isolating does not make you immune. If you get a heavy cold or flu-like symptoms again, then you and any family or friends you are sharing with will need to self-isolate again. Sorry about that.
Even if you have been positively antigen tested, i.e. whilst you are ill with active coronavirus, or recovered & proven to have had it with antibody testing, you will keep having to repeat the self-isolation cycle until science has proven the infected gain immunity or there is a vaccine. This is our new normal. Get used to it.
On March 14th, our current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, with his Tory government, decided to end contact-and-trace strategy for the general public and that testing would be prioritised for those admitted to hospital with suspected coronavirus. You might want to ask your MP why our govt wasn’t able to manufacture and administer sufficient testing capability for the coronavirus.
Will this ever end?
Yes, we will survive this. There have been fatalities, and there will be more, but at some point in 2021, we will likely come out of this period of coronavirus. Let’s all try to ensure that we come out of it as a better society.
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Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults
Stay at home: guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection
Stay at Home guidance for households: current guidelines illustrated
COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection (other languages)
‘Pause, reflect and stay home’: how to look after yourself and others in self-isolation
Coronavirus UK: How to self-isolate if you are asked to
Loss of smell and taste could be strongest symptom of Covid-19, UK researchers say
Got the Flu? 10 Tips to Ease Symptoms
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Created: 16th March 2020, Published: 20th March 2020.
Updated: 1st April 2020 – added report on research wrt loss of smell & taste
Updated: 11th April 2020 – added link to Boris Johnson’s take it on the chin Good Morning Britain video.
Updated: 22nd April 2020 – added caveat on gained immunity
Updated: 9th June 2020 – added March 14th date when original contact-and-trace strategy was ended
© JAK 2020
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