I will be writing a regular blog about the pandemic which will give my personal views. These are not the official view of our charity. Antibiotic Research UK is focussed on drug-resistant bacterial infections. Sadly, these can be a consequence of viral infections such as coronavirus (COVID-19). I have given some of the background in a previous blog post.
Government advice about how to protect yourself from coronavirus infection is confusing, as clearly demonstrated by all the people thinking that closing workplaces is an excuse for a trip to the seaside or Snowdonia. This is a PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY the likes of which we have never seen.
Last night the UK Prime Minister introduced more draconian measures to try and halt the spread of the virus. Sadly I believe these measures are like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. The PM said people should remain at home unless absolutely necessary such as going grocery shopping, to the pharmacy, to the bank etc. We say for the at risk groups absolutely no leaving the house. It is impossible not to get near other people in the supermarket even with social distancing.
The PM said you should SHOP ONLINE. Well you try getting onto the Ocado or Waitrose sites as I have – it’s impossible. Sainsbury’s say they are taking no new registrants for their online shopping service. We say that this is war and if necessary rationing should be introduced. Taxi drivers, Uber and Uber Eats drivers, Deliveroo drivers all who probably have no business currently should be enrolled to deliver groceries and medicines. We say that the supermarkets websites should be open for business, we say that call centres should be diverted to taking telephone grocery orders. Many pensioners can’t use the internet or may not even have a computer. The PM says ask someone who is not in the at risk groups to get your shopping for you. We say why should we be asking healthy younger people to put themselves in harm’s way?
How to protect yourself from coronavirus
The government advice is too little too late. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself;
- Follow the government advice published through the NHS COVID-19 page but you need to do more.
- If you are over 70 years old, self-isolate for 3 months (or longer if that is what the government’s medical advisers recommend). This means not leaving your home. Ask neighbours, friends or relatives who are not in the at-risk group to pick up your prescription, groceries etc. Although supermarkets are starting to open at certain times for elderly people, it is safest to avoid going into any public space at all times.
- You can go for a walk, but do not get closer than 2m to anyone you meet. Do not travel to get to a place to walk; the government has asked people not to travel. Over 70’s should stay in their homes and go into their gardens, if they have one.
- If you are in the at-risk group (I am), take extra precautions if you have people in your home (cleaners, workmen etc). Ask the person if they are well before they enter. If they are not then do not let them in. If they are well, you must still stay at least 2m away from them, and have as much protective wear available as possible for them to use (e.g. overshoes, disposable gloves, disposable coats etc). Once the person has left your house, open all the windows in the rooms where they have been and wipe all surfaces, doorknobs, toilet flushes etc with a bacterial wipe.
- If you are over 70 which I am, keep away from anyone except whoever lives in your home. People of all ages can carry the virus and some show absolutely no symptoms. Such people are, however, still highly infective as silent carriers.
- If you have symptoms, such as a sore throat, cough, cold, temperature, then self-isolate for at least seven days. If you live with someone, you might infect them, so the advice is for both of you to self-isolate for 14 days. Personally, I question whether this period is long enough and would suggest 21 days.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water in preference over antibacterial hand wipes. Use single-use kitchen towels and dispose of them immediately, rather than using cotton towels.
- If you get anything delivered to your house, make sure that the delivery is left outside your front door. Do not sign for the delivery as this will bring you into contact with the delivery driver and the device used for signatures, which could have been through many hands already that day.
- When you receive your deliveries leave them on the floor; don’t put on surfaces such as kitchen work tops.
- Wipe all surfaces regularly with antibacterial wipes (technically you want virucidal and bactericidal wipes – wipes that kill 99% of all known household germs do both). You can dilute any domestic cleaning agent (be very careful with bleach), dampen a disposable towel with it and use this to wipe surfaces. Surfaces to clean regularly include mobile/house phones, computer keyboards, door handles, toilet flushes, taps etc. For electronic equipment a damp wipe is sufficient; don’t drown the device with water!
- If you have a garden, do lots of gardening. It allows you to keep your mind and body active. If you have a garden but don’t like gardening, ask someone who does enjoy it to come and grow plants and vegetables, but remember to keep your distance.
Most of all, keep safe by taking the view that you might be a carrier and not even know it. Reduce social interactions to a bare minimum. Please don’t regard being off work as holiday. This is DEADLY serious!
To understand the relationship between respiratory viral and bacterial infection please read HERE