You would be living under a rock if you had not heard of Coronavirus or COVID-19 . There has been much media coverage and panic among people to make this an everyday conversation point. So should we be worried or not? Here are some facts about COVID-19:
- COVID-19 is a respiratory illness which originated in Wuhan, China. It is an animal virus which mutated and was then transferred to humans.
- COVID-19 is passed on from being in proximity (about 1.5 metres) from a person who is infected with COVID-19 . It can also be caught by touching contaminated surfaces (e.g. door handles, handrails, or bench tops) and then touching your face or mouth. People are at most risk if they are in an area where there is an outbreak or where there has been a known case of COVID-19.
- Symptoms include fever, sore throat, a dry cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms can range from mild to severe; with the most severe cases developing pneumonia type symptoms and sometimes multi organ failure. People at most risk of having severe symptoms are those who are aged over 70 years or Indigenous people aged over 50 years, very young children, those with chronic medical conditions, and other people who are immuno-compromised.
- Practising good hygiene helps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other germs. It is important to wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds (a good tip is to sing “Happy Birthday” two times while you’re washing). If you do not have access to soap and water, using hand sanitiser is the next best thing.
- If you do have to cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow or into a tissue which you then can dispose of.
- The current suggestion is to practice physical distance measures, including staying about 1.5 metres away from others, reducing the amount of times you go out and staying home more.
If you are worried that you might have caught COVID-19 call your GP or local medical centre for instructions. They may advise you not to come in and to attend your local hospital instead. This may change as drop in/pop-up Coronavirus centres are being established. If you have a confirmed diagnosis (and not hospitalised) or are returning from overseas you will need to self-isolate; this means staying at home for 14 days until you are no longer contagious. In this case, other people will need to get food and supplies for you and leave them at your front door. Other people who live with you will also need to be isolated as they are considered close contacts. Do not allow others to visit.
Being in isolation may be boring. Do keep in touch with friends and family via phone or social media. Keep up your routines as much is possible including eating and exercise. You may be able to work from home and if not perhaps catch up with other things. You can go outside if you have a back yard. Children who isolated may be able to do assignments or homework if the school can send these by email. Don’t forget time for relaxation and entertainment – think about doing things such as jigsaws, board games, playing cards, or an art or craft activity. Or perhaps open a Netflix subscription if you don’t have one. 😊
There is, however, no immediate concerns in our local area. Presently, living on the Sunshine Coast means a low risk for catching COVID-19. Most places are taking appropriate precautions to reduce the spread of the virus. This includes cancelling outside events which will likely have over 500 people attending, and inside events of over 100 people within close proximity to one another. Restaurants etc. are advised to adhere to the physical distance rule and many are now doing takeaway or delivery so you can enjoy your favourite meal at home. Here at Psychology ONE we practice good hygiene methods. There is hand sanitiser for patient use on the counter and we encourage everyone to use it when arriving and leaving. The premises are cleaned regularly, contact points are sprayed for germs twice daily, and surfaces wiped over with anti-bacterial wipes every day. In the unlikely event that one of our psychologists is required to self-isolate, Medicare will allow us to deliver services by video or telephone call. Additionally, if you have a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 or are concerned about your own health AND fall into one of the categories above, you may be able to attend your appointment by video or telephone call. Call the day before your appointment to check.
So overall, there is no need to be concerned or to panic buy toilet paper! If you wish to be prepared, you may like to slowly stock up on a few food items that you could use if you need to be isolated for 14 days (e.g. tinned products – vegetables and fish, packet soup, pasta, rice etc.). However please remember that most of the major supermarkets will return to deliveries soon and many of the smaller local shops (e.g. butchers, fruit and vegetable grocers) will offer delivery to your door.
Finally, you might consider how you can help others if you are able. It is wonderful to see offers of help for our elderly in the community. Let’s hope that we all find a renewed appreciation of the need to work together to create harmony.