I’m sure by now most people have chipped in with their thoughts on the COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic but as someone who is getting a bit more anxious about it over the last couple of days it seemed like a good time to join in!
I’m probably as unlikely to panic about things as anyone I know and I generally think most problems can be solved by ignoring them and cracking on regardless.
However, over the past couple of days as confirmed cases continue to soar and countries around the world start shutting their borders it’s playing on my mind more and more.
As many of you will know, I work at an airport in a predominantly passenger-facing role. On most days I will come into contact with people from around the globe, from every walk of life, and coming from or going to pretty much every region in the world.
I’ve no idea who these people have been in contact with, when they last washed their hands, whether they have just coughed or sneezed over themselves and, perhaps most worryingly, if they actually have Coronavirus.
Of course, the likelihood is that they won’t even know if they have Coronavirus or not because the symptoms don’t generally show for a few days. And in most cases the symptoms might actually be pretty mild and the person might not have yet put two and two together.
Do I Already Have Coronavirus?
Even more worrying than that is the fact that I also have NO IDEA if I have Coronavirus already or not! My immune system is generally pretty good at shaking things off, and given I’ve always had asthma I wouldn’t necessarily associate a tight chest with being anything out of the ordinary.
As I walk around the streets of Reading, picking Joshua up from school or taking my dad to an appointment, am I spreading it to loads of people who don’t have as strong an immune system as I do? Who knows?!
If Joshua gets it what will be the impact on him? Hopefully pretty minor but you never know. Sarah has a history of chest problems, so if she gets it will it knock her off her feet for a few weeks? If so, who looks after Joshua when I’m at work? How do we pay the bills if she can’t go to work for a month?
Like with most things in life I’m a lot less worried about me than I am about other people. If I got it I’m sure I’d be fine.
I don’t know why I’m sure – I have asthma so it could technically hit me hard – but I’m pretty sure I’d get through it. But knowing I potentially passed it on to someone who couldn’t get through it is a whole different matter.
But what can we do? I have no symptoms and I have no reason to believe I’ve been in contact with anyone who has had Coronavirus, so the likelihood is that I’m fine. I need to go to work to pay the bills. I need to take Joshua to school, and go to the shops and see my parents.
How To Prevent COVID-19
So I wash my hands, and use hand gel many, many times a day at work. I try to stand a bit further back from people. I try not to put my hands near my face after I’ve touched a surface. I’ve stopped shaking hands with people. I try not to get coughed or sneezed on!
But that’s it.
I do the small things I can to avoid getting it and to avoid spreading it. But I work in a place which is literally full of strangers who have been to all four corners of the globe. The airport is pretty much the place where germs and diseases from across the globe come to mingle!
Every surface is full of germs. Kids are running around touching, licking and coughing on anything and anyone in site! At any one time there’s probably a handful of people wandering around the airport with Coronavirus who don’t know they have it. And another handful wandering around with a fairly good idea they might have it already but are carrying on regardless because they want to get home. Who wants to be trapped in a foreign country when you’re ill?
So I carry on doing the little bits I can to protect myself and to protect those around me and those I love but knowing deep down that there’s a pretty decent chance I’ll end up with it.
In fact there’s a pretty decent chance that half of you reading this will end up with it too despite your best efforts.
Regardless of whether you have 2 or 200 toilet rolls at home, however many times you douse yourself in hand gel every day and even if you have enough pasta to last a lifetime you might still end up with Coronavirus. 🤷🏼♂️
So most of the time my rational brain will tell me that there’s no need to panic. I enjoy reading amusing memes about panic buying of toilet roll and I tend to substitute ‘COVID-19’ into the song ‘Come On Eileen’. I might even have the words ‘my, my, my, my Corona’ playing in my head to the tune of ‘My Shorona’ at times.
But however much I do my bit to avoid it or make light of it, the fact is that a lot of people will contract Coronavirus and a fair few people won’t make it out the other side. It’s that simple and it is a pretty big deal.
What Might Happen Next?
In the next few weeks we may see school closures. Maybe the UK airports will stop accepting flights, like Saudi and Kuwait and Italy and, in part, the US.
Maybe football matches and other sporting events will be cancelled. Maybe we’ll be sent home from work for a few weeks as there’s no one left who wants to risk flying anywhere! Maybe things will take so long to pick up again that there might not be a job to go back to at the end of it?
Maybe so many people will be self-isolating that there won’t be enough people left to keep shops open. Or doctors or dentists or firemen or bin men. It all sounds ridiculous at the moment, but I’m sure it would have sounded equally ridiculous in Italy a couple of weeks ago!
In some ways at the moment everything feels completely normal, but in other ways it just feels really unsettling. It’s a really strange time, and it feels like we’re only just at the beginning.