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This viral tweet from an NHS worker highlights the realities medical staff are facing right now

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Lauren Geall
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A woman who is stressed and tired

If you needed a reminder of why social distancing is so important, this viral post from an NHS worker highlights the sacrifices medical staff are having to make right now to help people fighting the coronavirus.

If there’s one thing we can all take away from the coronavirus pandemic so far, it’s the fact that a lot can change in a week. Just last Sunday many of us were gearing up to head into the office for another week – a circumstance which is now unimaginable.

There are now more than 5,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK (as of 22 March), with those numbers currently rising at an exponential rate. The practise of social distancing is more important than ever – with new government guidelines advising people “at very high risk” to stay home and avoid any face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks. We’re at a crucial time in the fight against this virus, and we all need to play our part to give medical staff a chance to help those who need it.

But still, despite all the warnings and advice issued by the government and official bodies, including the World Health Organisation, some people are choosing to live in denial and continue to go about their lives as usual. Pubs and restaurants have now been ordered to close, but before that measure was put in place, hundreds of people were continuing to socialise as normal.

And that’s what makes the message behind the latest viral post to come out of the coronavirus pandemic so important.

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The post, by anaesthetic registrar Natalie Silvey, gives a powerful insight into the realities medical staff are facing right now in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic – and it’s a reminder of the responsibility we all have to stop it spreading.

Posting a picture of herself after a nine hour shift in London, Silvey writes: “This is the face of someone who just spent nine hours in personal protective equipment moving critically ill Covid-19 patients around London.”

In the photo, Silvey’s nose and cheeks are notably marked by the protective equipment she’s had to wear on her face.

“I feel broken – and we are only at the start,” she continues. “I am begging people, please please do social distancing and self-isolation.

“Those red/purple marks across my face are from my mask and are deeper than you think. Today I have seen what Covid-19 is doing and now I just want to scream at people to listen to us.”

Silvey’s post then went on to highlight how many NHS workers are volunteering their time right now to treat the patients fighting Covid-19 – and appealed to the public to do their bit in the fight against coronavirus.

“I volunteered to do this,” she writes. “The consultant anaesthetist I was with volunteered. This is bringing out the best of us. Now can the rest of the country please bring out their best and listen!

She adds: “The real heroes – nurses. Today I saw just what efforts they are going to and I am truly humbled to work alongside them.”

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In response to the tweet, other NHS workers also shared images of the effect the personal protective equipment and long shifts were having on them – with many people responding to the images with messages of thanks and appreciation.

“I feel your pain this was me last night on shift as a critical nurse when I went on my lunch hour after wearing a mask and all the gear and do you know what I wouldn’t be doing anything else!” one nurse shared.

“I share your pain. Suspected case the other day,” another added beneath a photo of herself with similar marks on her face. “Thank you for everything you’re doing. Rest when you can and keep safe.”

If there’s anything we should take away from Silvey’s viral post – and the messages of support and solidarity it has received – it’s that social distancing really is the least we can do to do our bit in the fight against this virus.

While working from home may be a little inconvenient and cancelling social events may be disappointing, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Every day, NHS workers are putting themselves in harm’s way to help those affected by this virus – so let’s all do our bit to try and stem the spread of the virus and reduce the pressure they’re handling for all of us right now.

To all the NHS workers out there: thank you. 

NHS Coronavirus Guidelines

Stay at home if you have either:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.

You can read more about how to look after your mental health, how to self-isolate in a flatshare and how to stay active at home. Read all of Stylist’s latest news and advice on coronavirus here.

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Lauren Geall

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