The bigger picture

There is an abundance of information being shared across all forms of social media at the moment. It’s a blur of facts, figures, fact and fiction.

After nearly 5 weeks of lockdown, most South Africans are feeling various levels of emotions, ranging from frustration to fear.

The message from our government and the World Health Organization is that the steps taken have been necessary and are working. With this said though, there appears to be a shift in mindset as people begin to feel the fear of the financial implications of lockdown. Why are we staying in lockdown when the death rate is so low?

What is slowly being forgotten though is the main reason for lock-down. Reducing the amount of fatalities from Covid-19 is one reason yes. But the main reason is to reduce the spread of the virus, in order to allow our medical infrastructure to prepare, upgrade and handle the potential influx of patients arriving on its doorstep requiring medical attention.

Covid-19 is not going to magically be eradicated by the end of April. It’s here for the long haul and as we enter winter, we will be seeing a steep rise in the rate of infections throughout the country.

‘Flattening the curve’ is a term that’s been thrown around a lot. The meaning of this is purely to slow down the rate of infections, not to eradicate it. There is no cure, there is no vaccine. It’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.

If we fixate on the death rate/percentage alone, our figures look reasonable enough one could even say. Reasonable enough to allow a complete ending to lockdown and allow people to go back to their previous life as though nothing were ever wrong.

The reality though is that an abrupt ending to lock-down would result in a drastic rise in the infection rate and as a country we could well find ourselves facing a medical care system that is completely overwhelmed and faced with the very real situation of having to prioritize which patient is more deserving of treatment than another. Is that a situation you would like to find yourself in? 

Gripes about what we may and may not do through lock-down are also becoming an increasing discussion. Comparisons between South Africa and first world countries such as Norway. These comparisons are nonsensical at best, our poverty line is far higher than that of a first world country. Access to basics such as clean water and basic sanitation in South Africa is vastly different to any third world country. A large percentage of our population live in densely populated areas, where staying indoors 247 is simply inhumane and impossible.

I see it in local forums and online. People complaining that being unable to take their dog for a walk or go for a run is ridiculous. Forgetting that allowing these activities in one suburban area, whilst restricting it in others, is not a line we as a nation want to cross. Here in leafy suburbia this could potentially work, in densely populated suburbs, this practice would prove catastrophic for the spread of the virus.

At the end of the day we are all South Africans and like it or not, we are all in this together. Our levels of comfort and security have been tested and pushed to the very edge, to ensure our safety, and that of every other South African living in this beautiful country.

I don’t envy the president for one second. The decisions he has had to make in order to ensure that each South African is best protected has no doubt been an incredibly stressful process. I admire his resolve and determination to put forward systems aimed at keeping us all safe, sure there are loopholes, but he has done a far better job than most leaders of the ‘free world’ and first world nations.

None of what we are experiencing can be considered normal. For families like mine, social distancing, self-isolation and severe hygiene practices is normal, given our unique circumstances. We entered our journey relatively blindly, it felt incredibly isolating, being criticized for being over bearing and paranoid, whilst navigating and figuring out a new way of life that would keep our daughter and family safe. It is heartwarming and heart breaking at the same time to now see the world around us navigating a journey which we took a few short years ago. Heart breaking because of the handful of people who are so incredibly narrow minded that they cannot see the bigger picture. Heartwarming because every single day I see people reaching out to each other, offering support, care, food, clothes, love, guidance, understanding and love.

Life as we knew it has changed. Whether you like it or not. Embrace it, learn from it. South Africans are incredibly resilient, uplifting, resourceful and positive. While things may look different moving forward, I have no doubt that we will make it out the other side, stronger.

Keep safe, keep healthy, rock those beautiful masks, keep your distance of 2 metres in public spaces, wash your hands and remember to let the gas out of your pineapple beer 😉

Keeping the Covid (and other viral critters) at bay

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will be aware that the world as we knew it to be, no longer exists. We don’t know what it will look like in the next few weeks, months or even years, but we can all agree that like it or not, things have changed, dramatically.

Most of us are sitting in our homes, wondering. When will it be over? Will I be able to pay all my bills? Will I still have a job? Will I fall ill with it?  Will a loved one succumb to it? Will I have the same freedoms as before?  The answer for these questions is unknown for most. It is the most terrifying part of an unprecedented, invisible threat. We can’t see it coming. We can’t ensure that we’ve safe guarded ourselves properly. Nothing we have done up until now has ensured our complete safety, from the virus itself, or from the ripple effect it’s having on the world’s economy, financial institutions or job security. While I can’t offer any sage advice on how to secure yourself financially, I can offer some advice on how to keep as safe as possible from contracting a virus, be it Covid-19 or any other virus you may be placed in contact with.

Before I continue I need to say, I am not a medical professional by any measure. I am merely a mother to a formidable young lady who was born extremely premature, had severe lung issues for the first few months of her life with Chronic Lung Disease, had zero immune system at birth and is still classified as high risk for any respiratory illness. The preventative measures I’m listing below are what we as a family practiced religiously for the first year of her life, many we continue to practice to this day.

  1. Social Distancing: This is a term which everyone is suddenly very familiar with. In essence it’s the practice of keeping a safe distance of around 2 metres (6 feet) between yourself and someone in public.  Social distancing also refers to distancing yourself from large gatherings of people, shopping centres, markets, festivals, church ceremonies, etc.
  2. Isolation:  For us this essentially meant that very few people were allowed within our home during high risk seasons.  Those who were permitted had to adhere to very strict rules (which I’ll get into later). Isolation also meant that we were largely home bound, we did not attend parties, braai’s, large gatherings. Outings to shops were highly restricted and limited to essential shopping only, with only one member of the family tending to these errands.
  3. Hygiene:  The rule here is simple in nature. Try to ensure that any exposure to the outside world does not result in personal contamination.  Following on personal contamination is the need to ensure that possible contamination is not brought into your home.

Social distancing is one of the elements of our protocol that we have relaxed with over the years as our daughter has grown, required social stimulation and developed her immune system. We slowly started taking her into public spaces, allowing her to play with other children, going to touch farms, play parks and kids parties, but were always mindful of the season and who we interacted with.

Isolation has also progressively relaxed over the years, again, we are still incredibly mindful of who we allow into our home, our closest friends and families are acutely aware that we will not allow anyone in who is ill or who has been exposed to someone who is ill.  Our daughter is in pre-school, I started working full time, we spend more time in public spaces than we did in her formative years.

Hygiene, or rather sanitization, for me was one of the hardest ones to relax on. Keeping in mind we were on the extreme precautionary end of the spectrum. Up until the pandemic was declared and Covid hit our country, I was still very much trying to keep a level head and maintain a sense of calm over how extreme my measures of prevention were required to be.

When cases started appearing in the country and the spread escalated we discussed removing our daughter from school and going into lockdown with her. The morning after the president announced a date for a nationwide lockdown, our daughter woke up with a fever and immediately we knew her system was further compromised and we set into motion our families lockdown ahead of the nationally mandated one.

The points below are what we follow currently and have done in the past through her first year and through ‘flu seasons’ since.  I hope they assist you in keeping you and your family safe:

  • Stay home as far as is possible. Refrain from unnecessary trips. If you need groceries, arrange home deliveries or ensure that you plan one trip out to get all of your essentials;
  • Plan trips to shops at low peak times, early mornings, late evenings, when most stores are relatively quiet and large crowds are unlikely;
  • Wear sensible, easily washable shoes, they won’t be entering your home and will likely be sanitized, so wear something that you won’t cry over being ruined;
    • Take along a sanitizer spray and/or wipes with you to the store;
    • Wipe/spray the trolley, not just the handle, the entire trolley, the groceries you bring home are resting in that trolley;
    • Wipe/spray each item you pick from a shelf wherever possible before placing it in your trolley. Try not to pick up items unless you intend on purchasing them;
    • Take along a handwritten shopping list instead of your phone, every time you touch your phone you risk contaminating it;
    • Wipe/spray the till counter and ask the teller and bag packer to sanitize their hands before handling your groceries;
    • Wipe/spray your hand before touching the card machine, and after;
    • Try to reduce the need for using physical money, notes and coins are a haven for carrying viruses and bacteria;
    • Wear a suitable mask in public if the need requires it;
    • Don’t touch your face unless you have washed your hands or sanitized them, just don’t do it;
    • Don’t bother with gloves, most of you are using them incorrectly to begin with; wash your hands and/or sanitize correctly, before and after your shopping trip;
    • Spray your grocery bags before placing them in your vehicle;
    • It goes without saying, if you are using disposable masks and gloves, dispose of them safely and suitably in a bin where nobody else will have physical contact with them;
    • Remove your shoes before you enter your home;
    • Remove your clothes, place them into the washing machine immediately and take a nice, long, hot soapy shower before greeting your family;
    • Refrain from physical contact as far as possible, no hugging (I personally loved this as I’m not really a hugger), no handshakes and definitely no kisses on the cheeks or lips;
    • If you are having guests over (out of lockdown period), make it abundantly clear that they are to be freshly showered and clean as well as wearing clothing that has not been exposed to public spaces, they should not have been in recent contact with friends, family or work colleagues who are ill and they themselves should not be ill.

This all may sound like a lot to digest, and you would be spot on there, but when the health and wellbeing of yourself and your loved ones is at stake, it’s a small price to pay. The severity and intensity to which you follow these suggestions is up to you and largely depends on the time of year, for us we follow these far more diligently through autumn and winter when colds and flus are more prevalent.

These protocols were put in place after discussions with our daughter’s specialists and medical professionals, to ensure that we minimized exposure to ourselves as well as her and are largely what we follow currently with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

You may feel that this is all much ado about nothing, but for those of us who understand that a common cold can prove deadly, these protocols are potentially lifesaving.  If you choose to believe it’s all a tad much then I ask one simple favour of you. When you do go out into public, still practice good hygiene, refrain from touching surfaces unnecessarily, refrain from taking your child to the shops when they are sick, and if you have no choice, ensure that they have a mask on and do not touch anything, Covid pandemic or not, we all need to take a little more care of our actions in public spaces.

Here’s also a fantastic video to watch to show you how to correctly use hand sanitizer:

Here’s a video showing the danger of using gloves incorrectly:

Here’s a video to show you how to wash your hands correctly:

I hope the above has helped you. And as always, stay safe!

xx

Some of our supply with a handy small bottle to spray trolleys, bags and groceries and a small spritzer for hands and door handles.