Infectious

Since it’s such a relevant topic, I wanted to write about Corona. Especially since I am chronically ill and would probably have more of challenge should I be infected than most people would.

The people who usually comes to mind when we remember the 3% death rate of Covid-19 are elderly people, but many young disabled people are at risk too. Even if we don’t die, it can have much harsher consequences for us. When I first accepted I would probably need a wheelchair it was after contracting a flu that permanently affected my ability to move. It was already hard, I had been using a cane for a while at this point, but after that I had a much harder time. I also had to end my education, I was doing a bachelor degree in Japanese at the time.

Unless there is a bigger threat like now, we as a society tend not to focus on limiting the spread of diseases. We don’t focus enough on the importance of washing your hands properly and often. (Yes, I am looking directly at you, man who doesn’t wash his hands after peeing because he “barely touched anything”. Science is against you, wash your hands. With soap. For no less than 30 seconds. Sing Happy Birthday twice.)
We need to do this all the time, not just when there is a specific large scale threat like now, because the people who are at risk now are at risk all the time.

That doesn’t mean that we should panic. We shouldn’t panic now, and we shouldn’t panic in general, but we need to take this seriously and normalising washing our hands more often than most of us do now would be a start.
We have to teach our children, we have to practice it ourselves, and we have to do more political things like making sure that people can and will take off from work when they’re sick and to seek medical help, no matter what job they may have. If you don’t do the last part, the first part will be pointless.

Last week in the capital of Norway, a hospital worker at a ward for eye health came home from Italy and while they didn’t show any symptoms they made it clear to their colleagues that the had been in Italy and to be careful about getting too close, just in case. It was only after two days back at work that any symptoms started presenting themselves, and the worker asked to be tested. They were refused because the place they had been on holiday was not in one of the affected places in Italy, but they had been to an airport in Italy where there was a much higher chance of getting infected. They asked several times and were still refused. This doctor did what they could, especially towards patients (even had another doctor take over some patents where the doctor would have to be within 30 cm to give treatment), but because they were told not to go home and that testing wasn’t necessary, they did infect other people.
This one worker, who we now know indeed had the virus, may have infected hundreds of people and all of those people have walked around infecting more people. Almost 300 other workers at the hospital have been quarantined because of this.

Picture of a large older red brick building.
Oslo University Hospital. (Photo: Monica Strømdahl)

This is an ever bigger problem in places like the US, where the standard is “I cannot afford to stay at home”. Research have shown that that standard will spur on an already fast spreading virus.
The hospital in question made a statement saying that in hindsight it’s easy to say that they should’ve known better, but in the moment it’s not that simple, but I strongly disagree. Especially within healthcare, you should always be extra careful. The patients are more likely to be within the high risk group, and you are responsible for keeping them as safe as humanly possible. When a doctor back from a country with a lot of confirmed cases of Covid-19 and starts presenting with any symptoms at all, they shouldn’t have to insist on being tested for days before they’re taken seriously.

Another big problem is the large amount of misinformation and racism floating around. They tend to pair up a lot, unfortunately.
I don’t even want to get into it, but I suppose I should.

Because the first cases started in Wuhan in China, people’s vague xenophobia have turned into specific distrust and fear over anything remotely Asian. Muddled into it are misunderstandings regarding how this disease spreads and how to prevent it from doing so.

I am personally taking precautions, and I am doing it more than I normally do, but some things are hard to avoid for me. My husband is a teacher and does Jiu Jitsu, so there is a fair chance that I can get infected through him, but I also have to see my doctor and my psychologist (at a hospital), and that means risking infection. I do what I can, but I depend on other people, who might not be at risk, to take precautions as well.

So when we talk as if the people in the high risk group somehow does not matter, that will do real harm to real people.

Both my husband and I got swine flu when it was going around, so the odds are not in our favour, but we do what we can.

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