What Can I Do About It?
This things is bad. Not only is it going to create a massive burden on health systems worldwide, it has already created large scale unemployment and global stock markets have taken a hit. Small businesses will be the first to go under, and the longer this lasts the more businesses will suffer. But all is not lost.
The government has enacted certain measures but this has not been decisive or swift enough. Other countries that had already gone into lock down begged us to follow suit, but we started with small measures that had no effect in flattening the curve, in fact, our curve keeps getting steeper and steeper.
What does flattening the curve mean? The curve means we have a growing rate of infection while we need the opposite. This needs to flatten out because as the number of cases increases the general burden on the healthcare system increases, as does the potential for fatal cases. While you would have heard “it’s just like the flu for most people” or “it only affects elderly people” many of these came from the start of the infection cycle and are no longer necessarily true (though it is true for many they will have mild symptoms). For example, the infection profile for Australia is relatively flat at the moment that means young people are almost equally likely as older people to contract the virus. This means that SARS CoV-2 is infecting both the young and the old alike. The global infection profile has 40% of the infections between 30 and 59 years of age. It is true however, that it is more dangerous for elderly people. But it is also dangerous for those with poor immune systems, people with cancer, people with pre-existing respiratory problems, and a number of other conditions.
If we don’t flatten the exponential growth, then the health system with only so many ICU beds with become absolutely overwhelmed with critical care cases. There literally will not be enough beds and ventilators to help everyone. Our doctors will have to make the same gut churning decisions that doctors in Italy and elsewhere are having to make: deciding which of the patients lining the hospital hallways gets to live and which has to die. This scenario is not some Orwellian nightmare. It is playing out in European hospitals as you sit reading this.
So what can you do to help flatten the curve? It is actually very simple and easy. Small changes can make big differences. Failing to do this though will mean tougher and tougher restrictions from the government, which will mean more and more job losses and crippling effects on the economy.
1. Wash your hands. Pretty simple right? One of the easiest ways to infect other people is by carrying virus particles around on your hands. Wet your hands first, then apply soap. Rub the palms together, then rub the back of the left hand with the palm of the right and vice versa. Lace the fingers together and get deep into the webbing of the fingers. Then bend the fingers towards the palm and lock both hands together, rubbing side to side. This needs to be done for 20 seconds or about as long as it takes to sing happy birthday to me, twice. When you rinse off your hands, rinse from the wrist down removing any remaining nasties into the drain.
2. Stop touching people. Seriously, cut it out. A woman got corona from taking a selfie with Tom Hanks. Hugging friends and people you run into on the street and shaking hands is an easy way to communicate corona. How do you think the royals and other politicians got it? Going to meetings and shaking hands! They estimate that shaking hands has an over 90% chance of passing along corona, a fist bump reduces this to 75% or so, and an elbow bump to less than 25%. Doing none of these things, they estimate the chance as significantly less than 5%.
3. Wash and disinfect surfaces regularly. If this thing can live on surfaces cleaning them with good disinfectant will significantly reduce yours and your family’s risk of getting sick. Carry a bottle of sanitiser with you and use it after you use a public bathroom or go to the shops. Carry wipes in the car with you and wipe down fuel pumps and other surfaces before use. Wipe down gear sticks, indicators, and door handles regularly, especially if you have had other people in the car.
4. Work from home if you can. Scientists estimate that if 80% of people stayed home we could nip this in the bud very quickly. That’s because it reduces incidental infection. This means we could flatten the curve more quickly.
5. Don’t go out unless you have to. Yes, I get we all like fishing. I get that kayak fishing is a social distancing activity by nature. I get that this sucks, and that people are scared and frustrated. But the more we go out the greater chance there is of spread. Using walking tracks etc is good for your mental and physical health, and no you don’t hug everyone you meet on the path (I hope!) But there are cases of transmission where there is no physical contact between people which means that you can get coronavirus through close contact alone. You don’t know whether someone on the path before you sneezed into the air, and you don’t know that gentle southerly breeze blowing into your face and keeping you cool doesn’t carry viral particles with it. Research has shown that viruses can carry for hundreds of metres on the wind. You don’t know that the handrail you used to climb that stair isn’t covered with viral particles from the last person who touched it. You might realise you forgot your water and must stop at a servo to grab a bottle, or you might really feel like a Krispy Kreme on your way out. This will all increase your risk of infection and slow the flattening of the curve.
6. Follow the advice given on public gatherings. This is based on the best medical and scientific advice we currently have. While you might think it is OK to grab a group of your mates together, you are risking spreading the infection should anyone have it. A group of 35 people defied the warnings and had a party. One person had Coronavirus, now all 35 people have it. Doctors have stopped doing non-necessary surgeries now not because they need the beds, but because we really can’t afford for doctors to get sick and be taken off the line right now. Directives are given for a reason.
If we don’t all do these simple things, we are almost guaranteeing that increasingly tougher measures will be introduced, this will mean greater loss of income and industry, less and less fishing, and a much, much, much longer recovery period. Not only from the virus, but from the effects of a pandemic. If things should miraculously go back to normal at some point in the not too distant future, we should all still live cautiously. We all need to work as members of a group at this point, and put our own personal interests in the back seat, for now at least. If we don’t, we will all pay the price in the long run.
And we are almost guaranteed a second wave of this thing without a cure or vaccine. so being prepared and being compliant will dictate how much of an impact this has on all of our lives.