Coronavirus misconceptions; But it’s just the flu!
Like me, you may have had enough of the constant speculation and guesstimating regarding the COVID-19 situation in Australia, particularly within Victoria. We’re being bombarded with constant arguments from people who are either too selfish or ignorant to listen, suggesting that COVID-19 is a big fat fraud, a setup, the list of conspiracies goes on. Meanwhile, our Victorian State Government, (who I acknowledge has made significant mistakes) pleads with us on a daily basis to do the right thing, stay at home as much as possible and cover our faces when we need to leave home.
‘But it’s just the common flu, more people die from the flu each year than of coronavirus’,
The disbelievers repeatedly claim:
‘Everyone’s over-reacting’ and ‘we’re all worrying unnecessarily’.
And then the conspiracy theorists jumping on the bandwagon:
‘it’s nothing but a mass conspiracy theory to confiscate any scrap of freedom we still possess,’’ or ‘It’s the 5G, it’s all Gates’ fault’!
Misinformation is not helpful to anyone. Misinformation is contributing heavily to the anguish and decline of health and well-being of otherwise mentally healthy people. Disturbingly, we are witnessing a greater number of suicides in comparison to previous years.
People are struggling to remain positive in isolation. Not everyone has the personality to cope in such conditions, (see: thepicturehealer.com/isolation-loneliness-and-disconnection-the-next-pandemic-in-waiting/) but the narrative of dis-creditors are adding to the damage. If our country didn’t have doubters and rules breakers, we’d have more resources to put into helping people through such a difficult time.
As we witness COVID-19 cases increase significantly daily, some people continue to not follow the advice we’re given. Like spoilt children who don’t know any better, some people continue to choose to travel out of their locality without good reason. This is why our numbers are rising. Regional Victoria numbers were low and steady, but city people have visited despite being told to stay away. I have no doubt, stage three restrictions will return to my hometown.
My sentiments are supported by many people who have expressed concern about others within the community misbehaving. I’m stunned every time I leave my house (which I only do for the reasons as advised by the Government, despite not being in a stage three area) only to witness people not social distancing, no face masks in sight and many, flaunting the fact that they’re not doing the right thing. Reality check people, this isn’t amusing, you are not a tough guy or girl, you are disrespectful, selfish and a danger to society and yourself. If there was a way to have you locked up, I’d support it wholeheartedly.
For those of us who live with existing mental illness, this misinformation and reluctance to do the right thing by others, is causing great distress. I speak from experience. If you’re reading this, you know I’ve lived with an Eating Disorder for most of my life. Eating Disorders are cruel, monstrous illnesses. They are not about food, nor are they really about weight and appearance. Usually, someone with an eating disorder has been subjected to a source of great distress (due to no fault of their own) at some point in their life; the ED develops as a survival and coping mechanism. An ED gives its so-called ‘friend’ a fleeting sense of relief. Let me assure you, it’s a very fleeting sense of relief, then the rock bottom hits home again and the cycle continues, because the eating disorder, while appearing to offer relief initially, wants to isolate and destroy.
Let me share how such attitudes and actions of others is having an impact on myself and probably many other people. I’m feeling unwell, very unwell. If I’m lucky enough to get sufficient sleep, I wake in the morning with a headache. Soon after, nausea sets in, severe nausea. I feel hot and thirsty all day long, but I can’t drink enough to feel better. I’m fatigued and I have no appetite. By the end of the day I’m trying hard not to vomit up the very little amount of food I’ve been able to consume. I do not have COVID-19! My symptoms are due to my Eating Disorder trying to take advantage of a very bad situation. My illness is trying to take back the control I’ve worked hard to reclaim, taking my very own life back. Unfortunately, every time I read or hear of someone purposely doing the opposite to what our Government recommends, I feel more unwell; it’s growing by the day. I’m trying, desperately trying for the sake of my children, to at least appear okay. I’m setting an example of what we should be doing.
Ironically, I’m doing exactly what my treatment team tell me I shouldn’t be doing for the good of my family; bottling up feelings and staying at home, but what choice do I have? My children, six and eight, are also beginning to feel the stress of the world. They cry for the smallest of reasons, they are clearly distressed and as a parent, this is hard to watch. Blatant resistance by some people in our community is contributing to this and is unfairly taking a chunk of our children’s childhood and throwing it in the bin. Resistance will only prolong this saga.
Let’s look at some home truths. Resistance is backed up with statistics to undervalue the severity and seriousness of COVID-19. Let’s take a closer look.
COVID-19 and flu are similar
- Viruses do cause both and COVID-19, with their first symptoms often being very similar.
- They can cause fever, coughing and a sore throat, and in both cases, symptoms can vary from mild to fatal.
- While none of us have any immunity to the new coronavirus, research shows our immune systems respond to it in the same way as the flu.
- The immune cells that emerge in the blood before patients recover from COVID-19, are the same cells we see in people before they recover from flu.
- Given both viruses are transmitted in the same way, via respiratory droplets, both require us to practice good hygiene and proper respiratory etiquette.
- That means frequent and thorough hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue, and if you’re sick, avoiding contact with others
COVID-19 is more contagious
- Epidemiologists use a couple of different measures to work out how far and fast a virus is likely to spread.
- One of these is called the “basic reproduction number”, otherwise known as the R naught, or R0.
- The R0 refers to the number of secondary infections generated from one infected individual, as suggested by Dr. Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases specialist from the Australian National University.
- “For COVID-19, that number is 2 to 2.5. That means one person with COVID-19 goes on to infect two or two-and-a-half people.” That figure is higher than for the flu, for which the R0 varies, but is estimated to be around 1.3.
In a nutshell, the viruses are similar, but COVID-19 is way more contagious than influenza. Still not convinced. Let’s continue.
COVID-19 is more deadly
- Most people who get the new coronavirus or flu will get better.
- The fraction of people who develop severe disease with COVID-19 is higher than it is for influenza.
- According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 15 per cent of COVID-19 cases are severe infections that require oxygen, and 5 per cent are critical infections, requiring ventilation.
- The mortality rate for COVID-19 also appears to be higher than for influenza, especially seasonal influenza.
- “For seasonal flu it tends to be about 0.1 per cent,” Dr Senanayake said. That equates to around one in 1,000 people.
- “For COVID-19 at the moment, the global case fatality rate is over 3 percent.”
- At a rate of 1 per cent, COVID-19 would be about 10 times more deadly than seasonal flu, which is estimated to kill between 290,000 and 650,000 people globally every year.
Now go ahead and figure out the number of fatalities that equates to the current rate of 3 percent or more. Need more convincing? Let’s go.
No treatment for COVID-19
- Unlike influenza, for which we have anti-viral medicines and vaccines, there are currently no licensed vaccines or drugs for COVID-19, although there are potentially several in development.
- While the flu vaccine isn’t effective against coronavirus, it’s recommended you get vaccinated when you are able to.
- “What we don’t want is people getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time,” Dr Senanayake said. ** Hmm, I wonder why?
Take Home Message:
The harsh reality is that the true statistics may not be fully understood for some time. The experts continue their efforts to develop a better understanding of the virus, how to detect and treat it in the most efficient manner possible. Until this time, the true number of cases may be greater, with many who may have had a mild case not realising they’ve been exposed. Something vital we haven’t considered is the state of our health care systems. If we continue the upwards spiral, our health care system may become overwhelmed due to cases requiring hospitalisation and additional medical care such as ventilation for more severe cases. We’re already seeing this in other countries overwhelmed by large numbers, to the point that their medical systems are just short of collapse.
As such, it’s critical that we all stand up, come together and fight for the survival of all. We can’t continue to be complacent. COVID-19 is a serious problem that we must all take seriously. If you refuse to do it for yourself, do it for your mum, your dad, your kids, whoever it is who means the world to YOU. Failing to do so, our medical system may drown in the number of cases coming its way.