INFORMATION AND ADVICE KEEPS CHANGING SO I HAVE UPDATED THIS POST 12 March 2020
If you don't want to read my ramblings (and even if you do) please check out the latest information such as BUGB advice here which includes practical and pastoral/theological matters and has a link to official government advice.
WHAT FOLLOWS ARE MY VIEWS NOT THOSE OF ANY ORGANISATION
I've been fighting the urge to post something about Corona Virus for some time now.
It is, for vulnerable people, very serious. There is, as yet, no vaccine for Covid19, so no way of protecting oneself against it, and that is a significant difference from, say, seasonal flu; vulnerable people cannot protect themselves by any means other than distance/isolation, and therefore the rest of us need to be sensible to keep them safe.
I say this as a person who is eligible for flu vaccination because I am 'at risk', who has a background in risk assessment but no medical training, and as someone who is advocating a 'keep calm and use common sense' approach.
The data to date show that, if we 'do nothing' the number of cases of corona virus increases by 15-20% per day, or, to put it another way, it doubles about every 4-5 days. This means, inevitably, that each day the number of new cases goes up - this is just simple maths! Even so, at the moment there are (according to data I checked 11th March) 456 cases in the UK, which out of a population of roughly 68 million is 'vanishingly small'. Also, in the UK 27,476 people have been tested (11March) - and, so far, the vast majority of these don't have the virus.
In real terms, these numbers - so far - are tiny. That isn't cause for complacency, it's cause to take a measured, sensible approach to stopping the increase and in time bring it down. I now understand that the NHS is seriously concerned about managing this and putting in place plans to try to ‘flatten the curve’.
The best way to reduce the rate of increase - and in time turn it round to a decrease - is to reduce the spread. And the best way to do this is hand hygiene - something I was taught in infant school!
Stockpiling toilet rolls (why? this doesn't cause diarrhorea and the two week self-isolation isn't going to need that many trips to the loo) pasta or hand gel (which doesn't kill viruses anyway) isn't going to help. Indeed, all that stock-piling does, is mean that those with the time and money to do so fill their homes with ludicrous quantities of things that they won't use, leaving the poorest and most vulnerbale unable to obtain them. Also, notionally at least, trekking round supermarkets to stockpile actually increases the risk by bringing them into contact with even more people.
It's really not rocket science...
- wash your hands. Soap and water, buble bath and water, shower gel and water, washing up liquid and water, if all else fails, even just salt and water...
- if you feel unwell stay at home - you should anyway, but somewhere we forgot this bit of common sense
- catch your coughs and sneezes and bin your tissues... and wash your hands again
- if you have an underlying health condition or are immuno-compromised, get advice from your own medical professionals
- avoid unecessary travel especially by air or trains with air-con. If you can't walk or cycle, then a car (but not a taxi) is the least bad...
- at the moment, no-one is telling us to avoid small gatherings (which include most church services) but be sensible here too, stay away if you are unwell, keep hand to hand contact to a minimum.
- If you need to self-isolate either order groceries on line, or ask a friend to shop for you, and get them to leave the bags on your doorstop (think Eyam, plague village, in the 1600s, that's how not rocket science this is)
- Don't forget foodbanks still need donations
- If someone you know is stuck at home give them a phone call, send a text or email
- Keep calm - oh, and did I say it: wash your hands.