We’re in the middle of incredibly scary times. Headlines seem to be spurting more bad news every minute, warning us of an oncoming recession, travel bans and months of quarantine. It’s enough to feel like you’re in a post-apocalyptic disaster movie. In fact, we’re half expecting a zombie to stagger past our living room window (because, we‘re working from home, of course).
And that’s the thing – even though we all know the situation is serious, there’s also something slightly ridiculous about it. Maybe we’re just struggling to process what’s happening or caught in COVID denial, but if you’ve been thinking “I’m sure this will all blow over soon” and happily heading out to the local lunch spot on your lunch break, you wouldn’t be alone… but it might be time for a wake-up call.
That is according to science writer Priya Joi. In the wake of the coronavirus situation reaching an even more critical point, she has posted a series of videos to Instagram delivering an important message to anyone who isn’t self-isolating.
Speaking to stylist.co.uk she explains why she felt prompted to share these messages today: “It felt like today I reached peak exasperation with everything I’d been hearing from people. That’s not their fault because they haven’t been hearing really clear messages about what to do.
“I’m writing around the clock about the coronavirus as I’m a science journalist and I specialise in infectious disease. So I’ve been reading everything in science journals and the best advice from organisations like the world health organisation where I used to work.”
In each video Joi has addressed the different stances that those of us who are feeling more relaxed about the pandemic might be taking. For example, if you’ve been failing to self-isolate because you’d rather get the virus sooner than later, Joi has explained why this is the wrong way of thinking.
Below we’ve broken down the three main questions that Joi sets out to answer on why we should be taking coronavirus seriously.
“I’m going to get coronavirus anyway, I might as well get infected now.”
“There’s some really important reasons why that’s a bad idea. First off, we don’t know enough about the virus. Although we generally think that the people who get it are elderly and sick, we don’t know enough to say that’s for absolute sure. In Iran recently there have been 1,000 deaths from coronavirus and 15% percent were under 40. That’s really young. We don’t know why they’re dying younger in Iran, that’s what scientists are trying to find out.
“The other reason is that you could get really sick if you have an underlying health problem. This could be cancer or diabetes, but we don’t often know what we’ve got lurking in our bodies. People can have heart disease or diabetes and not know it. Usually it wouldn’t make us super sick unless our immune system is overloaded, with something like coronavirus. You could find out that you have something underlying when it’s way too late.
“Even if you get the virus and you don’t get sick, you could pass it on to two or three other people. We still don’t even know how many people can be infected from one person having the virus. So, if you get the virus and go and see your parents, grandparents or friends who might have underlying health problems you are being extremely irresponsible by thinking I’ll be okay. Well, you might be okay, but you don’t have the right to pass it on to anyone else.
“So, if you’ve been thinking ‘we’re all going to get it anyway what does it matter?’ It matters hugely.
“I can still see my closest friends and family”
“If you think it’s okay to still visit friends and family, the answer is no. I know it’s really, really, really difficult especially because the UK so far has not ordered a complete quarantine like countries like Spain and France have done.
“However, even if you see someone you know and think they seem fine and healthy, since you last saw them they’ve probably touched handrails on the tube, a button to cross the road, they’ve touched a million different things that we touch without thinking about. The latest information we know says the virus can last on a surface for up to three days.
“You might feel like people that feel familiar and are in your inner circle are fine, but it’s not fine. You can’t avoid people you like with, but even some people are self-quarantining inside households. So please don’t go and see people that are close friends and therefore ‘should be fine’ because they’re no more fine than a random stranger whose coughing into their hand.”
“The streets are completely empty, is this my time to go out?”
“The streets are empty so if you’re thinking this is my time to go out on a quiet run, take some pictures or just enjoy no one being around, no it isn’t. The reason is because these sorts of measures of self-isolating and quarantining only work when each individual person takes responsibility and that makes up a societal collective action.
“If each person thinks, ‘the streets are empty, maybe I’ll go out now’ obviously the streets won’t stay empty for very long and then we’ll be back where we started. The other reason is that the virus can last on hard surfaces for up to three days, so even if the streets have been deserted for an entire 48 hours, anything you touch could have the virus on it. It puts you at more risk but more importantly because we’re all connected, it puts people you’re in contact with at higher risk. If the streets are empty, they’re empty for a reason and we absolutely need to be self-isolating and staying at home.”
What does the NHS advise?
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- 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
- avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
- only travel on public transport if you need to
- work from home, if you can
- avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
- avoid events with large groups of people
If you’re planning on self-isolating for the foreseeable future make sure you take care of your mental health, stay well stocked up on entertainment and navigate the situation with those you live with.
Images: Getty Images