Covid-19 - keep calm, keep your family safe

I'm a trained veterinarian, with additional post-graduate qualifications, and plentiful experience of emergencies and utter chaos of all sorts. I honestly never thought I'd find a practical use for most of the veterinary knowledge. Turns out, it's actually useful for helping people not get sick from Covid-19 (SARS-COV2)!

So here's some things you can do to remain healthy, and help ensure everyone else stays healthy too are.

  • Remain calm. Panic makes people do stupid things, often leading to deaths. Remain calm, and you are less likely to make stupid decisions, and far more likely to make excellent ones. 

  • Obey the law. Please, follow the sensible level four isolation/lock down guidance provided by the New Zealand Government. It really will work, to at least a very significant extent. It may be possible for Aotearoa New Zealand to locally eliminate SARS-COV2, and then keep it out... But that is only possible if we all follow the rules of the lock-down!

  • Wash your hands - "The solution to pollution is dilution".

    • Rinse your hands and forearms in clean water. Tap water is ideal, but any clear, fairly fresh water is OK too (i.e. non-potable/non-drinkable water from natural sources like streams)

    • Soap up. Liquid soap, bar soap, whatever soap you prefer! Use enough soap to generate a thick foamy lather.

    • Scrub thoroughly for twenty seconds.

      • Scrub all surfaces of hands. Palms, tops, sides, all of the gaps. Scrub your wrists and lower forearms too.

      • Scrub each finger and all fingernails. A nail brush is helpful. You can also rake your nails over a bar of soap, then scrub out on the palm of your hand.

    • Rinse hands and arms thoroughly. Remove all the suds. Lightly scrub/agitate with your hands as you go.

    • Dry your hands on a ​clean, dry towel. A disposable towel is best, though if you wash them regularly and you are not sick, normal hand towels are OK for domestic (your own house) use, for your own family.

    • Wash your hands before and after any meal, any time you have touched surfaces that may be contaminated, when you get home, before you go to bed... And after using the toilet... Always wash your hands after that no matter what. Because... Eww.

    • "The solution to pollution is dilution"​ ​​​

      • This​ applies to hand washing, social interactions, surface cleaning... Everything. 

      • For hand washing, it means rinsing your hands well!

      • There's nothing "magical" about Coronaviridae's envelope that makes it particularly vulnerable to soap.

        I'm sorry to... Burst your bubble... I'm also sorry for that pun. I promise I'll stop doing that now. Well OK, maybe just pun more.​ 

        Essentially all microbes (in this case, meaning viruses and bacteria) have either a lipid bilayer (lipid envelope for virons) or a proteinaceous-fatty outer layer (cell wall, cell membrane, or capsid).

        • Soap makes all of these layers more soluble in water.

      • Soap can kill Covid-19. That is true... But the primary way hand washing with soap helps protect you is by acting as... Soap. 

        • Soapy water forms 'micelles' around fats/oils, like those found on the outsides of microbes. 

        • It also helps encapsulate/loosen other dirt (once dirt is on your skin, it mixes with some oils/fats released from your skin).

          • Basically... Soap works how it has always worked; and it works great!​

      • Scrubbing or agitating your soapy hands means more particles are encapsulated in the lather.

        • This makes them much easier to rinse off.

      • Rinsing soap lather off your hands is what removes the vast majority of potentially harmful pathogens.

      • So rinse thoroughly!  

      • "The solution to pollution is dilution"!

      • Drying your hands thoroughly helps remove even more loosened debris.

      • Use moisturiser - regular soap hand washing and alcohol hand sanitiser will dry your hands out. This gets uncomfortable fast! Apply a hand moisturiser often to help keep the skin on your hands healthy. 

      • Trim your nails. Less nooks and crannies for crud to hide in!

      • Consider applying a zinc-containing moisturiser if you are washing your hands very frequently. Particularly if you are also using alcohol hand sanitisers!

        • Soap washing/drying, and particularly alcohol sanitisers, dry your skin out... In the short to medium term, it's likely you will end up with dry, scaly, sore hands... It is even possible to end up with uncomfortable dermatitis (skin inflammation), and sores - all as a result of washing/hand sanitising. Your fingernails can also end up very soft, or you may even develop fungal or bacterial infections in them.

        • Zinc works superbly as a skin protectant. I am unsure of the exact mechanism​s invoved (or more likely, just forgotten)... But it's is a great ointment for your hands. Zinc oxide and castor oil ointment is a good choice... Zinc cream (like what sportspeople often wear) is superb on your nails. Zinc is a fairly good preventative antifungal too... Also, don't be surprised if you end up with gleaming, firm and strong fingernails from the zinc!

  • Clean surfaces!

    • Particularly bathroom/kitchen/hand washing surfaces! Clean taps/sinks regularly with a regular household spray cleaner.​

    • Clean door knobs.

    • Clean surfaces that people touch often.

  • Avoid contact with other people.

    • Don't shake hands. It is disgusting. Nod, say hello, flip them the bird, East Coast Wave... Whatever works for you. Just don't shake people's hands. Avoid touching other people.​

    • Particularly avoid contact with people who may be unwell.

    • Covid-19 is spread mostly by direct contact (like shaking hands), or by aerosolised droplets from coughs/sneezes. These then infect, if they are able to enter your respiratory tract (i.e. your face holes - eyes included). 

    • Practice not touching other parts of your body with your hands. Though it is difficult to stop yourself from touching your face - most people do so unconsciously, and frequently... So wash your hands, be extra careful when out in public, but don't be too hard on yourself if you do touch your face - everyone does it.

    • Avoid areas where these aerosols may be present, avoid the disease! 

      • This is also a form of dilution. But for people. Remember, the solution to pollution is dilution.​

    • Remain home if you are unwell. Contact your doctor if you are concerned - always call ahead.

    • Call an ambulance (111) immediately in any emergency situation. 

    • If you are unwell, and must out in public, or when you go to your doctor, you can help protect others by wearing a surgical face mask.

    • ​Cough and sneeze politely and cleanly - into a tissue is best, or failing that into your elbow, not your hands! ​​

    • Avoiding people altogether is, sadly, impossible. When you do need to interact with others, do so at a distance... And try to do so in open air environments... Spend as little time as possible near them. They'll understand. They're probably trying to do the same! 

    • Wherever possible, keep indoor spaces well ventilated - airflow with clean, outside air is your friend. Airflow is also a form of dilution!

    • These steps all fall under that convenient ditty... "The solution to pollution is dilution"


  • Ensure your vaccinations are up to date. Get a flu vaccine.

    • No, an influenza vaccination won't protect you against Covid-19.​​

      • But it will help prevent any overloading of hospitals if as many people as possible get these.

      • And it will likely prevent you from getting Influenza​ and SARS-CoV-2 infections simultaneously, or one after the other... Either is bad enough on it's own... Getting both together would be terrible.

        • Yes, you can be infected by more than one virus at a time!

        • You're much more likely to become unwell with another different infectious disease immediately after having one. Your immune system is weaker. You haven't been eating and drinking normally/healthily.​ So getting influenza this year is a really bad idea! Get vaccinated!

  • Sunlight is the best disinfectant.​​

    • Not just an idiom. It's true. The most powerful, and important antimicrobial force we have on earth - by far - is... The sun. Sunlight (UV radiation) ANNIHILATES​ pathogens. It's free. It's (hopefully) easily accessible.

    • Practically, what this means is... Dry your clothes and other washed items in sunlight wherever possible! 

    • If you're going someone outdoors, do so in sunlight where possible. You'll need the Vitamin D, particularly over winter... Direct sunlight will have made the surfaces in that area much less likely sources of Covid-19!

    • Remember to wear sunscreen, even in winter, if you will be in daytime light for more than a few minutes.

  • I'll add more to this. Probably. Maybe. We'll see... The important thing though, is remain healthy and safe. Keep exercising, keep eating healthy food, remain calm, and then we'll all likely be OK!

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Cerberus - New zealand - Est 2019


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