By FATIMA PATEL
It’s a stressful time right now. Most of us are feeling the pressure of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
There are currently more questions than answers and everyone from global leaders to health experts to even my fellow journalists are trying to get answers as fast as they can so that we have some kind of comfort and assurance that all will be ok.
What we know so far is that the Coronavirus or Covid-19 started in Wuhan. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. Seven, including the new virus, have made the jump to humans, but most just cause cold-like symptoms.
The virus can cause pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure. If reports are believed many of those who have died were already in poor health.
What we all know for sure is that the coronavirus doesn’t choose who to attack, black, white, Muslim, Indian, American or any other, everyone is a likely victim, so one thing we should acknowledge immediately is that we are all in this together.
What we don’t yet know is how dangerous the new coronavirus is, and we won’t know until more data comes in. Stats say seasonal flu typically has a mortality rate below 1 per cent and is thought to cause about 400,000 deaths each year globally. Sars had a death rate of more than 10 per cent. According to the WHO, the death rate for coronavirus in Wuhan is two to four percent, whereas the rest of China and the world is around 0.7 percent.
Another key unknown is how contagious the coronavirus is. A crucial difference is that unlike flu, there is no vaccine for the new coronavirus, which means it is more difficult for vulnerable members of the population – elderly people or those with existing respiratory or immune problems – to protect themselves. Hand-washing and avoiding other people if you feel unwell are important. Another good tip would be for those most vulnerable to get the flu vaccine, which will reduce the burden on health services if the outbreak turns into a wider epidemic.
Taking all this into account, for me it’s also equally a more important reminder that we look out for and look after each more now than we have ever done. It’s time to look after yourself, your loved ones and time to really show what humanity is all about.
As of Friday, the number of confirmed cases of the virus in the UK rose to 798 and a total of 11 people have died.
Global cases have now surpassed the 138,000 mark which include more than 5000 of them to be fatal. So, when you hear figures like these, I understand why people are panic buying and I understand why our emergency services are being stretched. But we really need to pull together, help ease the pressure on our emergency services and really think about those who don’t have the means to bulk buy.
Check in on your neighours, help each other through this. Check in on those who are most vulnerable.
It’s quite refreshing to see the Italians coming out to sing patriotic songs from their balconies during coronavirus lockdown in Italy and in Iran Doctors and nurses were filmed dancing in a bid to boost morale. Here in Bradford it’s heartening to see some taxi drivers dropping off essentials to vulnerable people, in Scotland Amuslim couple have put together and delivered relief packages to help elderly people in their town survive COVID-19. These stories are reassuring at times of difficulty and we must do more of this.
So my advice is let us come together and do our bit as the great British public and play our role in supporting the response too.
Everyone can help by following these simple guidelines:
- Follow public health authorities’ advice, for example washing your hands regularly either with soap and water or with a hand sanitizer, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze, put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
- Reduce the impact and spread of misinformation by relying on information from trusted sources, such as that on nhs.uk, www.publichealth.hscni.net and www.gov.uk
- Check and follow the attest FCO travel advice when travelling and planning to travel
- Ensuring you and your family’s vaccinations are up to date as this will help reduce the pressure on the NHS/HSCNI through reducing vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Checking on elderly or vulnerable family, friends and neighbours
- Using NHS 111 (including online) pharmacies and GPs responsibly, and go to hospital only when you really need to. This is further explained on the NHS website: When to go to A&E
- Being understanding of the pressure the health and social care systems may be under, and receptive to changes that may be needed to the provision of care to you and your family.
- Accepting that the advice for managing COVID-19 for most people will be self-isolation at home and simple over-the-counter medicines
- Keeping up to date and checking for new advice as the situation changes.