What a week it has been. This is a long one. Sorry.
Maybe it is because we are away in Canada at the moment and trying to get home.
Maybe it is because we are doctors.
Maybe it is because we home school and people aren’t sure how to go about that.
Or probably it is a combination of all of the above but, this week I have had a LOT of questions about this current situation and what I think.
It has been an emotional rollercoaster for us all. What is happening in terms of advice and approach here in Canada is different to what is happening in the UK. We have friends in Hong Kong and Singapore who have already gone through this and see it from another angle and we have a lot of information coming to us as well as everything we are reading.
I have to confess to reading too much.
Over load can induces anxiety in all of us.
Partly this has been for practical reasons. We are not due home for 3 wks but questions like should we or should we not come earlier? Our flight isn’t cancelled so insurance wouldn’t pay out. If we wait 3 wks to come home then things may change and we can’t get back and Dave needs to go to work to help out all his colleagues who are already under so much pressure. These sort of practicalities have been a big focus of our energies this week.
But also the conflicting advice on isolation and what we should do is causing anxiety.
This is a NEW pandemic not a well understood endemic flu virus. The spread is exponential and our response to it in the next few weeks is crucial to the ability of our NHS, which is already under so much strain, to cope. This is NOT about us and us getting the disease as such, for most of us hopefully it won’t be nice but it will pass. This is about the bigger picture and reducing the number of people that need help in our country. The vulnerable, the elderly, the people with underlying illness.
To do that effectively we need to practice SOCIAL DISTANCING. This term is thrown around now. Is it lockdown? Is it isolation? Can I walk the dog? What does it mean? If you are completely symptom free then this is about not being close to another human being who is not in your immediate family, go outside but stay away (2 metres) from other people. If you are symptomatic or in a household with someone symptomatic then this is just stay in your house and garden if you are lucky enough to have one.
This is the only way of slowing down the transmission of the disease. In countries like here in Canada, this has been put into practice immediately, in the UK it has been more phased in, I do not want to get into discussions about why this has happened, even within the experts (which I am not) there is controversy over this but the concept is inline with this herd immunity theory.
The huge rise in death rates and cases now in Italy is suggested to be because they did not adhere to social distancing 2 wks ago. Again a controversial statement but a theory.
We all need to listen to this advice and be consistent in our message. It certainly feels from a far, that the feeling has started to change in the UK towards the need for more active SOCIAL DISTANCING. We need to reduce our contact with each other which is the complete opposite of human nature but our behaviour is the only thing that can help now.
Yes, the kids are gutted to be leaving school. No GCSE’s. No A levels. No prom. No holiday jobs in cafes and pubs and bars. That is a bleak thought but, it will work out and they are all in the same boat. This issue is much bigger than any of that. Hopefully we can help them see that. Never before have the skills of creativity, resilience and entrepreneurship been more important.
It is time to go back to basics (except with the luxury of google and wifi…)
Shop for essentials only. Locally ideally.
Support those businesses and people around you.
Is there anything you can do to help them.
Look out for the elderly, vulnerable and those who live alone.
Make phone calls and Face Time people.
Spend time with your family in a way that in this busy world we never do.
I have attached FOUR things in the comments below that I have found most helpful out of a lot of reading.
A VIDEO about 5 facts about PANDEMICS from an American science teacher which is really excellent and good to use with kids.
An article written by a UK Medic about the reasons behind the theoretical herd immunity. I am not an expert but this is the best thing I have read to explain it so far.
A letter from an Italian mother about what she wished she had done differently. If you have a Teenager, read it.
An overview from my friend and colleague GP, Rini Chatterjee founder of Resilience Health. Her blog Clarity, Community and Cover-19 covers all of the issues in a very clear and balanced way.
As I have said, I am not an expert but I am concerned for my nearest and dearest who are on the front line dealing with this in the hospitals. My best friends, previous colleagues and soon my husband. We have to take some responsibility for this and our behaviour NOW is the only thing that can make a difference.
Stay safe… and keep washing your hands!