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Soon is the winter of our..

21 February 2020

Coronavirus is still a thing.

Depending on which misinformation you listen to, the COVID-19 virus is either going to sweep the world and infect billions, or it's a relatively low-level threat that is less likely to kill you than regular influenza.

One thing that has got doctors and scientists worried however, is the timing of the virus's arrival and spread in New Zealand.

So far we have yet to confirm even a single case of infection here in GodZone but (as the Airline Pilots Association says) it's just a matter of time before that happens. Our borders are still open and although we're blocking direct arrivals from high-risk areas of China, it is inevitable that someone, sooner or later, will enter the country whilst carrying the highly infectious pathogen.

The big problem, according to the experts, is that we're nearing the end of our summer and winter is just a few short months away. Apparently, we could be facing a real problem once the regular flu season kicks off. If COVID-19 gets a foothold and starts to spread throughout the population, we could be in for a whole lot of trouble.

According to this RNZ report, our hospitals are often already stretched by regular flu cases and have little capacity left to handle what could be a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus on top of that.

The risk is that resources allocated to treating patients with coronavirus may be obtained at the expense of treating those with influenza and, as we know, influenza itself kills many of the weak and elderly every year already.

It is very unlikely that there will be any vaccine for COVID-19 developed in time to be included in this year's flu-shot but I'll certainly be lining up to get my innoculation ASAP so as not to be an unnecessary burden on the health system at a time when they could be stretched beyond breaking point by our new viral enemy.

According to the RNZ report, New Zealand is only moderately well prepared to cope with the effects of a coronavirus pandemic. We rank 35th out of 195 countries and surprisingly, we're well behind countries such as Canada, Britain and Australia. That has to be something of a concern.

In reading reports on the effects of COVID-19 I've noticed that it's extremely hard to determine (from those reports) just how lethal this virus is. Many sources are saying that it's less likely to kill than regular influenza but on the other hand it appears that many fit and healthy, relatively young adults have succumbed to its effects.

Am I worried?

Well I'm a fatalist. What will be will be. You have to die of something and it's really more about how the dice are rolled than anything (IMHO).

If/when we do have an outbreak I will be somewhat more cautious about my level of interaction with others and the amount of time I spend in crowded places but I suspect that life will go on (or not) as usual for most Kiwis.

Should things get really bad then at least I can continue working in isolation and not have to worry about losing my income or risking exposure each day by rubbing shoulders with other members of the public or workmates in a crowded environment.

I have also ordered a year's worth of full-body condoms, for those few occasions I have to leave the house (such as when shopping for groceries) :-)

My final bit of advice... get fit, eat healthy foods and try to avoid anything that could compromise your ability to fight off the infection if you are unlucky enough to be exposed or become sick.

Other than that, cross your fingers.

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