As I am sure you all know, a new virus has emerged from Hubaei Province in China and over the last 3 months has spread around the world, mostly by air travel to create a Pandemic.
The virus normally infects a species of bat but it has entered human circulation through (it is believed) a wild animal meat market. As such it is referred to as a ZOONOSIS. Like most zoonoses, humans have not previously been exposed to this virus or similar strains and therefore have no immunity to it – either as individuals or as a collective. In addition, the virus appears to be highly transmissible through droplet spread and allows the host (ie infected person) to build up sufficient levels of the virus in their blood stream to shed the virus and pass it to others perhaps for as much as three days before symptoms appear. This combination is what makes this disease so dangerous.
The likely spread of the disease has been modelled by mathematicians and epidemiologists and our best working knowledge on this new disease is currently being passed to us through the Prime Minister’s televised updates at 16:45 each afternoon. The following website is updated daily and provides the most up to date government information on the many aspects of this condition. Click here for more
The virus primarily infects the lungs and can cause a mild cold through to an overwhelming viral pneumonia with fever and a compromised lung function. Symptoms are typically feeling well before developing general weakness and malaise then a high fever (above 37.8oC) and a persistent dry cough. The cough is so frequent it does not respond to cough suppressants and over days, the rib muscles hurt.
Most people will recover but much has been made of groups of individuals who are particularly at risk. These include:
· Existing heart disease (angina, cardiomyopathy, previous heart attacks)
· Chronic respiratory disease (asthma, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis).
· Chronic Kidney Disease.
· Progressive neurological conditions – Parkinsons, MS and MND.
Like most diseases, they become more common with advancing age and so people over 70 are particularly at risk. In Hale, half our population is over 60 years old but we are lucky in that we live in a part of the New Forest which is not overpopulated and we have ready access to vast areas of open spaces. We can therefore enjoy walks in the countryside without exposing ourselves to large groups and risking viral transmission.
Therefore at this time of crisis and lockdown, we can remain reasonably active with little or no risk to ourselves or others. Try to maintain 2m between individuals as you meet or greet others. That will be good for our mental health and our sense of wellbeing.
How long will this last? The government has acted in a stepwise manner in response to the numbers known to have been infected (although only hospital admissions are being tested now). The sudden rise in confirmed cases is what has led to the sudden change of heart, the lockdown of communities and workplaces and the closure of schools for all but the children of keyworkers. Best guess statistics and based on the result of the lockdown in Hubaei Province, is that with sufficient measures adhered to, the pandemic may come under control by June. But we cannot be certain.
As a Council, we aim to support the population of Hale as best we can through self help means. Many of us use the excellent local shops at Woodgreen and Woodfalls and we understand a delivery service will be provided to account holders. Accounts can be opened on their respective websites.
We have a network of contacts on a street by street basis through the existing Neighbourhood Watch contacts and we are liaising with that service to foster and encourage a sense of “Street Community” but more volunteers may be needed so please contact Sharon Barnett if you can assist.
Finally, we recognise that some neighbours will be reluctant to ask for assistance even if they are living alone or may be one of the medically vulnerable groups. As a Parish Council we would like to offer those people additional support and would ask them to click on the “contact” button below to register with us as needing additional contact and support at this time. We will co-ordinate an appropriate response whilst respecting their privacy.
In the meantime, some services such as Downton Link and supermarket delivery services are struggling to cope. Please support your neighbours if you can, especially if they need food or medical supplies. Hale Parish Council would like to start a proactive telephone service to help people who are isolated. Please let us know if you, or anyone you know would like to supply their telephone number for a regular call from a volunteer.
Age Concern has a helpline if carers and/or social workers are needed urgently for house visits - 0800 3287154.
If you become ill and the pattern of illness sounds familiar to this disease, DO NOT VISIT YOUR GP or a Hospital Emergency Department.. You should contact the NHS 111 service on line (or with some persistence on the phone), and your presentation will be logged and you will be given simple advice which is typically, bed rest with isolation, fluids and paracetamol. It is only if you develop severe respiratory distress or a secondary condition that the NHS can help you.