Dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic

Firstly, I initially said that I was going to restrict this to only people who signed my petition, Je suis Chinois, but the reality is that I do not have it in me to restrict important information. If I did that then I would be no better than those who seek to divide us. All I will do is appeal to the reader to please sign my petition if you have not done so already.

Having done that as your first task, I will now suggest that your second task is to let any friend that you know who may be from a minority, to ensure that they know, that you will stand by them in a tough time, as we are likely to experience over the next little bit, so that they do not feel isolated in our community. As well as nourishing your own soul, that will also broaden and deepen your own personal security net.

Remember that viruses do not discriminate. Everybody is susceptible to infection, and at this stage – with known community transmission going on throughout the world – no one person or group of people is more or less likely to be infected. In actual fact, and this should make parents of young children feel a little better about the situation, some early reports have noted that children do seem to be less likely to develop severe infections. However, presumably they are just as likely to be infected, it is just that they might not become ill or even show any signs.

Before I say anything more I should make something clear about myself. I will never be accused of being a neat freak, I can assure you, and I have never been a “germ-a-phobe”. I was the guy that picked up the dummy off the shopping centre carpet and wiped off the crud and stuck it back in my baby’s or toddler’s mouth, because I knew that the probability of pathogens being there was practically zero and because I knew that exposure to a broad range of harmless (to humans) “bugs” improved immunity.

What I am about to say, therefore, is not my typical behaviour, and much of it I am having to train myself to do, and I look forward to forgetting it all when this pandemic passes.

Before moving onto some biosecurity measures, and bearing in mind that I am not a GP, I think it is clear that staying in good health leading into this Australian winter is critical. I note that Government has recommended people get the current flu vaccine. And when I recently saw my GP he suggested that I take some natural immune boosters. Those who have medical conditions are well advised to get ahead on their medicines – not stockpiling, but just staying well ahead of what you need in case it is difficult to get to a pharmacy, or at a future point you would prefer not having to go there (I am avoiding places where ill people frequent unless absolutely necessary).

It is probably also a good idea to stock up on the usual cold and flu remedies that you prefer. With that covered, I will move onto standard biosecurity to mitigate risk of infection.

People who do not like maths may not like to read this, but it really comes down to a numbers game. If you reduce by 50% the number of activities that you undertake which may expose you to the virus, then you reduce the probability of becoming infected by 50%. How you make those decisions is your own personal choice, and for all of us practicalities of day to day life means that we will need to come into contact with other people, and most of us would hold true to a philosophy that life without any contact with others is pointless.

Keep in mind that this is not a permanent situation. This will pass, and things will go back to normal. But it probably is going to take a year or two for that to happen. And I personally think that none of us will be the same again – we will all live in the knowledge that we humans are not invincible and that our life is just as tenuous as other organisms on this planet when it comes to acts of nature.

So social distancing or reducing social contact will involve visiting shops less, and possibly visiting less busy shops, not sitting around in cafes, reducing time spent in other crowds like at sporting events and so on. As I said, this is a personal decision. However, the Government may make some blanket decisions if it becomes necessary.

I am not wearing face masks, and I cannot imagine feeling the need to do so in the future, because my family and I have significantly minimised the probability of exposure with our behavioural changes. If I felt that the virus was so prevalent that wearing a mask would be a good idea, we would cut down our social exposure very significantly again.

You want to develop safe spaces for yourself and your loved ones which includes your home and your car if you have one because we all need the security of knowing that we have places where we can feel truly safe. This is going to be a protracted campaign, so I feel this is very important.

There are two ways that the coronavirus can enter that safe space – physically on surfaces of objects or people, and within infected people.

When out and about in public make a conscious effort to not touch surfaces with your fingers (or face), and be especially aware of your hands to ensure that you are not “self-inoculating”, i.e. transferring whatever is on your fingers to your mouth, nose or eyes. Be especially aware of what your children are doing in this regard. Kids are like sponges – they like to rub their hands all over all sorts of surfaces. 

Although it seems a little impolite, it is probably best to just try to manage a few metres of space around you clear of anybody except those with you. It can be difficult to quickly shift to avoid walking through a spray from a sneeze or cough. Remember, treat everybody identically – nobody is more likely or less likely to have COVID-19.

If you are eating in public it is really important that you wash your hands well before eating, especially something that requires you to touch the food. It is best to carry some hand sanitiser – it will give you that added security that you can sanitise your hands whenever you choose and if there are no facilities easily used.

Also have some sanitiser in your car. As soon as anybody enters your car after being outside of your “safe zone”, i.e. from a public space, then hand disinfection should be carried out before touching any other surfaces in the car.

Then on entering your home it is best to disinfect hands again, either with sanitiser or disinfectant hand wash. Also it is important to ensure that nails are kept short to ensure that germs are not caught in slightly overhanging nails.

For use around home it is a good idea to have a range of disinfectants ranging from mild (though still effective) products to use on surfaces, often within cleaning products, or including tea tea oil, vinegar, etc. For more serious disinfection buy some ethanol (I bought 70% ethanol from Big W which is what is used in laboratories to wipe down benches) or methanol (metho). And for large serious disinfection tasks – e.g. if someone was sick over concrete or something – buy some chlorine or other more “industrial” disinfectants. Of course, these can be corrosive or bleaching so use common sense on what should be used when.

So that should help you to physically keep the virus out from your personal spaces so that you can feel confident that you have done everything that you can to manage any current and future risks.

With the issue of somebody carrying the infection, well I will leave that up to the reader. That is really a personal decision on how that is managed, and it will largely depend on how you live your life – how social you are – and how you wish to engage within your social circles. I read some weeks ago about somebody who was telling friends that she considered were not taking the threat from COVID-19 seriously enough that she did not want them visiting. I did not think this an over-reaction. I recognise everybody’s right to make this call for themselves.

To summarise, this is what I have done with my family, and you will think of a whole range of things that will apply to you and your loved ones given the way in which you live your life:

  • everyone has their own cup and the children realise that they are being disrespectful to their family member if they use their cup instead of finding their own.
  • all males are keeping fingernails well clipped to minimise germ accumulation under them
  • we have strongly cut down on visits to shopping centres and cafes (a favourite pass-time for our family), and when we eat out it is always takeaway
  • we have reduced the kids sporting activities, not eliminated them; for example they are not training as often but are still enjoying playing their sports (this is under continual consideration as developments within Australia occur)
  • attendance at school is also under continual assessment – I will not hesitate to keep them at home if I feel that Australian politicians are too slow to act
  • we are doing more activities together like going for walks together or riding
  • we have never been big social mixers, but we have reduced further our social mixing to very close friends and family
  • we value our safe zones and disinfect our hands immediately on entry to them
  • we wash our hands more frequently
  • we reduce our touch of surfaces and minimise touch of eyes, nose and mouth
  • we look out for each other even more, reminding the other if we have slipped into a bad habit

The final thing that we are doing is talking openly about the pandemic – about our observations and our fears – so that everybody is as well informed as possible and nobody is surprised, which would cause a sudden surge in anxiety, by events that are taking place.

I sincerely hope that this helps.

One final reminder, if you have not already done so, please sign my petition Je suis Chinois.

I am for a united humanity!

Are you?

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© Copyright Brett Edgerton 2020

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