MSP writes about Covid-19

Wednesday March 18th 2020


Written by Michelle Ballantyne, South Scotland MSP

I understand why many of us will be feeling anxious about the recent spread of Covid-19 and how it might impact our health, our loved ones and our wider lives as we remember the 55 people in the UK and thousands of people across the world who have lost their lives to this virus.

During this time of angst, concern and panic across the world, our lives have become flooded with information relating to the virus. Whether it’s a through group chats, social media feeds or, for those who aren’t self-isolating, conversations in the workplace, there is a wealth of information about the virus and what action we can take to prevent the spread.

Of course, this is a rapidly evolving situation, with the guidance being refined and readjusted as the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Science Officer can reflect on the evidence available to them.

Whilst we are all worried, it’s clear that the level of individual responsibility we have right now is massive as our individual actions can directly impact the spread of the virus so it is becoming increasingly important that we adhere to, and keep up with, the experts’ advice on how we should act over the coming weeks.

At the time of writing these are believed to be the most effective actions that individuals can take to ‘flatten the curve’ as health experts describe:

  • If you have a fever or a new and continuing cough please stay at home for seven days (14 if you live with other people)
  • Stop non-essential contact as much as possible. This is particularly important if you’re over 70, have underlying health conditions or are pregnant.
  • Work from home if possible.
  • Stop unnecessary travel.

The efforts of the Midlothian community so far have been laudable, and a mention should go to the researchers at the Roslin institute who are part of the global effort to understand the virus and develop therapies that might mitigate its impacts.

However, the continual spread of fake news has been detrimental to these efforts and will only undermine the great work that’s currently being done. In recent times your Facebook feeds may have featured people comparing (and criticising) the responses between different countries, creating DIY sanitiser from vodka and scenes from local supermarkets which have been cleared due to panic-buying.

Although a lot of this is well intentioned, it’s not helpful. As governments and health officials across the world seek to strengthen our understanding of COVID-19 and target our response to combat it, we ought to remember each nation is unique in how its health system is set up, the resources at its disposal and the living situation of its citizens. What might be the right thing to do in Paris may not be as effective in Penicuik.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t take initiative. It’s been heart-warming to see how normal people want to be part of the worldwide effort to tackle COVID-19 and there’s more we can all do. Whether it’s sending loo roll to your local foodbank (you can even arrange for your local supermarket to deliver the supplies directly), calling friends/relatives to provide emotional support for people who are self-isolating or even just being more responsible when doing your weekly shop, there is no shortage of actions we can take right now. If there was ever a time for community spirit, this is it.

But above all else, the most important thing we can do is to continue to adhere to the advice from our healthcare professionals. To see the latest advice, check out:

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