Covid-19 and what we know


It’s a weird feeling, that your job could take your life.

As an experienced nurse of more than 30 years, working across aged care, community care, and critical care; it is my observation the current health crises will affect everyone in some way.


 With the world in lockdown, are we able to stop the spread of coronavirus?

How long can we stay in lockdown? And will our economy recover? These are the central questions across the world right now. Each nation has enacted some level of lockdown, and yet we are hearing little about any plans to come out of such lockdowns.


So, what are we, each individually, able to do to stay safe and stay well in the midst of this pandemic? There are two age old truths, that are as meaningful now as they have ever been. Your overall physical health plays a part; and handwashing is the gold standard for protection.


The first studies, from data in January 2020 within China, show medical decline associated with Covid-19 largely involves co-morbidities. What this means for all of us is that the old adage “stay fit” actually has a purpose now. There is enough evidence to demonstrate those who are fitter, with less health issues, suffer less during pandemics. Covid-19 is no different.


Masks, I hear you say. Give me a mask!

The situation is varied, depending on where you live; however, the advice from the World Health Organisation remains the same – you only need a mask if you are looking after someone with covid-19. Let’s look at this hypothesis. The basis of mask wearing falls apart when we look at symptoms of covid-19. All research agrees that many people present with little or no symptoms and yet can transmit covid-19 to others. Therefore, we have a situation where the incorrect use of masks actually puts the wearer at higher risk of infection. And health care workers are facing a very real shortage of masks, working directly with covid-19 patients. Are home made masks any value. The jury is still out on that one, and the choice has to be a personal one; remembering that incorrectly applied and used masks cause more harm than good.


With all this noise about masks, we have forgotten the most reliable indicator of reducing transmission of infection – handwashing.

Sounds terribly boring, but it is absolutely true. Since Dr Semmelweis made the discovery in 1847 that handwashing saves lives, we have paid little attention to this great fact. Remember being told as a child “wash your hands”. Such reminders are based on historic evidence that handwashing reduces the spread of infection. This analogy is no different with adults and is even more important during times of pandemic. Yes Covid-19 is transmitted through coughing, however social distancing promoted by the World Health Organisation is key to reducing the spread of Covid-19. So why handwashing again? Without handwashing, all the social distancing and masks available will be of no use. Handwashing remains at the heart of reducing the spread of Covid-19. The World Health Organisation has PDF templates, videos and written instructions on how to handwash safely, with soap and water, using a 20-30 second technique that can be easily learned.


As you read this article, remember to stay safe and stay well. What that actually means is as explained above. Stay as fit and healthy as you possibly can; and practice good handwashing.