Coronavirus – deciding what to believe, and some basic tips for reducing the risks

It seems all of my students wanted to talk about it this week, and everyone has something to tell. I learned about the bulletins you can get from the government in Singapore, border crossings being closed to stop it spreading, a possible case of a customer’s colleague contracting it and further colleagues having to stay at home.

Opinions are divided – some think that social media is the root of all evil and it’s all a big panic over nothing. Evidence doesn’t bear that out though. Sure, I’ve heard of people doing some social media stunts in very bad taste, just to get some likes and shares on the back of trending coronavirus hashtags. Not cool. There have been fake news videos and no doubt some people getting hysterical. But the fact is that the virus is spreading, and I don’t think that on the whole we’re particularly well-prepared for it.

Fake news is a thing, and everyone has a responsibility to check their sources for accuracy before they believe or share things further, but burying your head in the sand and hoping it will all go away doesn’t seem like a particularly smart strategy either.

There have been discussions about the number of deaths from the flu and from the coronavirus, but numbers can be misleading. The number of people who actually died is less relevant than the number of those who died as a percentage of those who caught the disease. I’ve seen different figures, but there seems to be consensus that the death rate from coronavirus, although low, is still higher than from the flu.

We don’t have a lot of data apart from what’s been gathered in the last months, but based on the evidence we already have, some groups are more at risk than others. So my point is that we’re not all the same. One person’s extra precautions or ultra-cautiousness might not be so extreme when you stop to see it from a different point of view. Perhaps that person is in a more high-risk group. Perhaps their immune system is already struggling for another reason. Perhaps they are caring for or living with someone who is likely to be hit harder if they caught the virus. I’d like to see a bit more kindness and a bit less judgement when it comes to what other people are doing and what they consider to be reasonable precautions. Unless of course someone is clearly doing something that puts other people in danger – like trying to refuse quarantine if it’s been confirmed that you have the virus. Then it’s ok to judge!

I guess I am a bit of a newshound. I like to know what’s going on. Somehow knowledge is power – it makes me feel safer if I have the facts, even if I don’t like them. You can’t make informed decisions on what’s right for you if you have nothing to base them on.

The last time I was in hospital, I received really good treatment. But it’s no secret that the NHS is already overstretched.

Of course you could say that if the virus is going to spread, there’s not a lot that individuals can do anyway. But I think there are things we can all do to minimise the risks such as

  • Knowing what’s going on and keeping up-to-date with any advice for your area;
  • Washing your hands regularly, especially when touching things in public places, and if that’s not possible, carrying and using a hand sanitiser;
  • Avoiding people who are obviously ill when possible, and if you get ill, whether it’s just the flu or something more serious, not giving it to everyone you know. There’s nothing wrong with spending some time at home to recover and most colleagues will thank you for it;
  • Getting a bit of extra food in – not panic buying, but just having enough in case you get ill and don’t fancy a trip to the shop, or worst case scenario, your area is quarantined;
  • Knowing what the symptoms are and what to do if you come across someone who may have the virus (getting an public transport to A&E isn’t the right answer);
  • If you need regular medication, does your local chemist deliver if you’re unable to get there easily? I only discovered recently that some do;
  • Do you want to keep all of your plans? I’m not saying everyone should shut themselves away, but I don’t think I’d fancy any really big gatherings at the moment. To be honest, I never do, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing that some big events are being cancelled, especially international ones;
  • If you run a business, what impact might there be and what could you do about it.

I tend to plan for the worst and hope for the best, which I think just makes me a realist.

But this isn’t supposed to be an advice post. I wanted to know how people are feeling generally. Are you worried? Tired of hearing about it? Not concerned?

I guess we all need to try and keep things in perspective – too much information or thinking about it might just make us anxious and we can never completely illiminate the risk. I guess it’s a question of balance.

How about you? How do you feel when you see information about the virus? Are you doing anything different at the moment? Do you think social media is a force for good or misinformation? Let me know in the comments.

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Author: englishwithkirsty

I have two blogs. Unseen Beauty is my personal blog. English with Kirsty is my business blog for people who are interested in languages or learning English.

2 thoughts on “Coronavirus – deciding what to believe, and some basic tips for reducing the risks”

  1. There’s a lot of ‘fake news’ but a lot of whispers that turn into rumours that get distorted each time it’s passed along. Plus, as you say, it’s a case of not enough being known about it. There’s simply not enough data. Go to the more reliable sources but keep in mind we may not know the full extent of it. Even with Chernobyl the full extent was never fully known. Excellent tips, too – these are really useful to keep in mind and a good time to remember the importance of hygiene always. Fab post!

    PS. I’ve just updated my Heat Holders post with the Alt Text for the images – I should have done this first but I ended up changes a lot of the images as I went along and didn’t update the alt text for them. All done now 🙂

    1. Great stuff about the images!

      Yes, we definitely shouldn’t listen to the fake news, but I think there is a tendancy for people to be too dismissive, because then they don’t have to do anything or take any responsibility. I think this is dangerous and to be honest I’ve seen more of that than of people getting hysterical.

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