• DON’T PANIC! COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) is not going to kill us all.
• The most important goal is to #flattenthecurve.
• A few little precautions go a VERY long way.
• Staying in is fun anyway.
• We all need to make sacrifices to benefit society as a whole.
When you read about “coronavirus” you’re reading about COVID-19 (which is short for Coronavirus Disease - 2019). COVID-19 is a new strain of novel coronavirus, which is a type of viral infection that can cause severe respiratory illness in extreme cases.
If you’re older than 25, you might remember a big media storm over a similar disease called SARS back in 2002 and 2003. SARS (short for severe acute respiratory syndrome) is actually a precursor of sorts to COVID-19, in fact, the very same strain of the original SARS epidemic is most likely the cause of the current pandemic.
Both are thought to have originated from bats in China.
Self-isolation is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of a viral infection. If you, or somebody with whom you have been in direct contact, has been officially diagnosed with COVID-19, it is imperative that you self-isolate for 14 days to ensure that you don’t infect anybody else.
The Australian Government is so serious about stopping the spread that self-isolation is also now enforceable by law if you have travelled overseas, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been asked to self-isolate by a health authority due to a suspected case.
This means you cannot leave your residence for anything, including a trip to the shops, pub, or even a friend’s house, meaning a few simple lifestyle changes are in order to guarantee a fast and successful recovery, or time spent indoors that won’t drive you bonkers.
Not to sound like a broken record, but we will say it again: self-isolation is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of a viral infection. If you or somebody with whom you have been in direct contact has been officially diagnosed with COVID-19, it is imperative that you self-isolate for 14 days to ensure that you don’t infect anybody else.
There are five main reasons to self-isolate:
In short, somebody will tell you, though it may not be because of a test result, and here’s why:
COVID-19 tests are in dangerously short supply the whole world over. This means that just because you think you need to be tested, or would like to be tested (just to be safe), it might not be possible.
If you arrive at a testing facility you will see all staff in personal protective equipment (like in the movies). To determine whether you qualify, you will be interviewed by a triage nurse who will ask you three questions.
You will only be swabbed if you are displaying symptoms AND:
Close-contact means having spent a significant time within a small distance from somebody who is confirmed, not just having attended a music festival or wedding where one person happened to get a sore throat.
If you do not have symptoms, or do not meet any of those three criteria, you won’t be swabbed, as there simply aren't enough swabs to go around (yes, this means don't bother going, you'll be safer staying home away from the queue of sneezing people anyway).
If you do have any cold or flu symptoms but don’t meet those three criteria, you will still need to self-isolate for 14 days.
If you DO meet the criteria, you will be given a face mask and asked to wait in line to be swabbed. If this happens, you MUST self-isolate until your test results are returned (currently around three days).
You’re also not allowed to travel home from the clinic on any public transport, including taxis and ubers, so be prepared for a long walk if you haven’t arranged a lift with a friend (preferably one with a face mask and hand-sanitizer in the glovebox).
Remember, this might all sound very extreme and confusing, but the sooner we slow the spread, the sooner we all go back to living "normal" lives.
For many, working from home will be an entirely new concept, but it’s a really important measure if you have the luxury of being able to do your job remotely (plus lunch hour is more fun with your partner/TV anyway).
It also comes with a whole array of advantages, including not wearing pants, being able to dress your cat or dog up as your secretary, and making transport to and from the office as simple as walking down the hallway.
But it can also be a bit of a shock to the system for those not used to it. Here are some tips for ensuring a productive day in “the office” when you’re not in the actual office.
Working from home can have many advantages and disadvantages, however you approach it. It can make or break any organisation at a time like a pandemic outbreak, so it’s important to set a few personal rules and stick to them, so that filing good, productive work wearing nothing but undies and a sloppy joe can be beneficial to all.
Food. Without it, you will get hungry, and eventually die. We strongly recommend the regular consumption of food during self-isolation to avoid this outcome.
What will be hard during self-isolation, especially if it is the enforced kind, is getting a decent supply of fresh food into your house (and stomach) without spreading any infection. A trip to the grocery store is off the cards, so try to use home-delivery services.
You can also, of course, get stuff delivered from your favourite restaurants. Now is probably a good time to support these businesses anyway to make sure they’re still there to serve you Aperol Spritzes and the like one we’ve collectively kicked coronavirus’ butt.
Here are the best ways to do that.
There are also meal-kit delivery services that make staying in, but still eating healthy meals that won’t break the bank, a reality. Here are four good ones:
Cancelling your plans to get on a flight to Hawaii for two weeks because 500-odd people have a cough might seem extreme, and it’s easy to get upset with the hysteria whipped up by the media right now, especially when it gets in the way of a beach, a tray of piña coladas, and a luau.
But it is important.
One of the most important things to keep in mind about coronavirus is that we still don’t have loads of information.
Going on the information we do have, it’s probably going to be okay for the most of us. But for a few, it can and will be devastating, and those few could easily be people in your own friendship circles, or even family.
The mortality rate isn’t terrifyingly high, and the symptoms are, for most, manageable. Like 95 per cent of the population, you probably won’t even need to be admitted to a hospital if you were to contract it.
But it’s not about you.
The vulnerable in society (i.e immunosuppressed people including the elderly and those on chemotherapy) are most at risk here, and it’s important that we keep our hospitals at or below capacity to provide the proper care and support to these patients.
Even though you might be “fine” coming down with a case of coronavirus, with mild symptoms for a few days then back to the office, this just isn’t safe, especially with so much still unknown about how COVID-19 spreads.
Worldwide, doctors are currently encouraging everybody to “flatten the curve”. This means slowing down the rate of infection drastically, so that emergency services and health workers aren’t swamped with a litany of cases all at once.
By taking extra precautions, individuals can essentially guarantee a slower, more drawn out pandemic that is far more manageable than a huge outbreak that could leave millions around the world without proper care.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Social distancing is different to self-isolation in that it means you can still leave the house, though with a few precautions in place to stop the spread. This is something that is being heavily recommended around the world right now, for everybody’s sake.
Ways you can socially distance include:
It is also recommended that a few extra precautions are taken when out and about (if you must be out in the first place) to help slow the infection rate of COVID-19. These include:
The Australian Government made this handy resource if you’re still unsure, and remember, with anything like this, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Unfortunately at times like this, it’s not just a nasty virus that can be shared. The other thing that has a tendency to spread like wildfire is misinformation.
“I heard that <insert wild rumour here>” and “somebody told me <bullshit, bullshit, bullshit>” is seriously unhelpful at a time when the information we do have is a precious commodity.
As such, it’s incredibly important that you don’t fall victim to rumour and hearsay.
Make sure any information you read, or share with anybody, whether on social media or in person, comes from a reliable news outlet, government department or with the relevant tick of approval by a registered doctor.
Misinformation can do a great deal of harm during a global pandemic, but unlike a virus, it doesn’t just spread from person to person without a deliberate action. We are all responsible for this.