Covid-19 Coronavirus, Panic Buying and Self Isolation
I thought it was time to write a blog post about the Covid-19 Coronavirus if only so that if we are ever reading back about what was going on at this time in our lives we’ll have a record of what is by far the biggest news story at the moment.
Things are changing on a daily basis as the virus takes hold and starts to affect more and more aspects of our daily lives. It seems inevitable that most people are going to be affected by the virus in one way or another. If the stats are correct then most of us will be infected at some point. How much that will actually affect us remains to be seen and depends very much on the individual and their vulnerability to it. As we all know though, it has the terrifying potential to kill and we will all have friends, family, loved ones and colleagues who are in the high risk category. This means that if death rates and infection rates are as high as reported then the outcome could be serious indeed. It seems that most people will end up knowing of someone who succumbs to the virus and its complications.
These are scary thoughts and scary times. In many ways the media, both official and social, do stoke the fire somewhat. There is plenty of scare-mongering, bad advice and downright inaccurate information out there but it is also a serious situation. People are over-reacting and some if not lots of the news is blown out of proportion. However, coronavirus has already killed many people and will kill many more. As it works it’s way through populations ever closer to us that means it will kill people close to us and it seems as though everyone over school age is at risk. Those in older age-brackets or with other underlying conditions moreso.
Even so, I still don’t understand all of the panic buying. Some of the scenes of empty supermarkets shelves and people fighting over toilet rolls seem farcical. Of course, in a couple of weeks time when we’ve run out of food and end up having to forage on the beach and in the hedgerows for our dinner we might not be laughing at these people quite so much!
I think we’ll be OK for toilet roll for a while. We haven’t been panic buying I hasten to add but if you took a look in our bathroom you might be forgiven for thinking that we have.
It’s all because we decided to try out a company called ‘Who Gives a Crap‘. The reason for doing this was mainly an environmental one. Their packaging is plastic free, they use environmentally friendly materials and donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those in need. All good things but it does mean buying in bulk. We just so happened to have bought a box of 48 double length rolls before the Coronavirus madness hit so our bathroom looks as though we’ve been part of the panic-buying stupidity! I’d like to reiterate once again that is not the case!
You have to admit that the individually wrapped rolls do look quite pretty though!
What’s crazy is the fact that Who Gives a Crap have sold out of toilet rolls themselves now as well. Their website today says:
As far as self-isolation goes then so far we haven’t been advised to go along this route. We are still going to work and school, we have no symptoms and we aren’t in the highest of risk groups so there is no need (apparently) to self-isolate (yet). To be honest, other than work and school we don’t have a lot of contact with others anyway and pretty much self-isolate at home most of the time. That’s not entirely true of course as Anna goes to band, I go swimming and training with others from time to time and we aren’t completely anti-social! However we aren’t particularly social under normal circumstances either.
Business As Usual?
So, despite the mass hysteria and the never ending barrage of bad news, it is currently business as usual for us. We are still all at work and school, but how long for I don’t know. There are updates daily from the school and the University, as well as from other organisations. The latest from the school is that Morgan and all other students should start preparing in case of closure. The latest email from the school says:
As we start another school week during these unprecedented times, we are emailing to remind you of the link to Public Health Wales guidelines which we encourage families to follow – https://phw.nhs.wales/
Currently the school is still open, as per the Welsh Government guidance. Parents must decide whether or not to send their child into school based on their symptoms and the advice given by PHW . Please inform the school if your child is absent and let us know the reason why.
Should the school close then we will be using “Hwb” to provide teaching. Please ensure that your son/daughter has a Hwb login and password. These have been given again in school today but should you need them then please contact your child’s Head of Year. We will be sharing information on how to access Hwb over the next few days.
We are getting similar notifications from the University with both staff and students being told that it is currently business as usual but that we should be prepared to work from home if we can. The University is increasingly migrating live teaching to online platforms. This means that some lectures will take place via video-link only. The intention is to increase online delivery of lectures over the course of the week with a view to ensuring that all relevant teaching is delivered online from Monday. Obviously not everything can be delivered in this way but it is one way to reduce the contact across campus.
Travel to and from the University is to be reduced so we are being advised against travelling on University business and similarly visitors are being discouraged from travelling to visit us.
This hasn’t affected Anna and I directly yet as we don’t deliver teaching and don’t tend to travel for the University in our roles. I do however assist students and researchers with their practical work in the laboratories and it has been recommended by some that non-lecture activities this side of Easter should be suspended. Some students have already had permission to leave Aberystwyth, others are self-isolating, no doubt some staff are in similar situations so it does look as though there will be some changes at work fairly soon. These are crazy times indeed.
Holidays and Travel Plans
As I say, so far it has been business as usual for the three of us. The holidays that we have planned are a little later in the year so things may have ‘blown over’ by then, but there is no guarantee of that. Government policies are currently aimed at delaying the spread and thereby levelling out the rate of infection within the population in an attempt to reduce the burden on the NHS. If this works, the length of time this continues for may be more than we expect. Who knows what will happen as far as holiday travel is concerned in light of this.
The only thing that we will probably change so far is our planned visit to my parents. We were planning to visit before Easter, but with all of the warnings against such things it’ll probably be wise to postpone it. My parents won’t like me saying this, but they are (not surprisingly) older than us and are therefore in a higher risk category. It seems silly to visit them with the risk of spreading infection just so that we can deliver Easter Eggs.
Yes, it’s likely that most of us including my parents will be exposed to and will therefore contract the virus at some point but we don’t necessarily want to be the ones responsible for spreading it to them. Nor do we necessarily want to bring it back to Ceredigion with us. The three of us travelling to Bristol and back will likely have little impact, and not making the journey will similarly do little to curb the spread. However, we won’t be the only ones cancelling such non-essential travel and collectively it might make a difference. Why not try to help if we can.
Elsewhere many things are being cancelled in our lives. Beekeeping meetings have been cancelled, races have been cancelled and no doubt Anna’s band rehearsals will be cancelled soon too. Morgan is of course hoping for school closures and I’m keeping an eye on emails and websites to see what is going to happen to races and training camps that I have scheduled. At the moment these are still going ahead but I imagine it’s only a matter of time before they are cancelled too.
At the end of the day such things aren’t that important. Organisers have to make difficult decisions based on government advice, the likelihood of participants not being able or not wanting to attend, and of course the potential costs associated with cancellations. It’s not an easy decision to make, but it’s one that has to be made with the best interests of everyone involved taken into consideration. Due to this, it is often easier and prudent to cancel even if only to show that your organisation is taking the threat seriously. Carrying on regardless could be seen as being irresponsible so often the only course of action is to cancel. In light of this I can’t see many events going ahead for at least the next few months.
The Good Side of People
These are strange times indeed, but from it comes good. There are countless posts on Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and other social media platforms from people offering to help out in the community. I’ve offered help to locals who might need it myself. Food deliveries, checking in on people who are at high risk and have been advised to self-isolate and making sure people have what they need is just the beginning. At times like these you see the good in people and see that most people just want to help where they can. Who knows, if our neighbours really are in need we might even end up giving them some of our stash of toilet rolls.
Take care out there, wash your hands and let’s hope it’s not as bad as the media seem to be making out.