It’s only been about a week since the Welsh Government and the UK Government began delivering their daily press conferences on COVID-19, yet we have seen a considerable ramping up of the measures to protect health and the clear message now from the both Governments: Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.
Already it is beginning to feel like a strange new world for many of us, and one we’re not used to. It is our natural desire to look for answers during these times and that can mean we reach for information which is misleading and inaccurate.
Social media has become littered with homemade solutions and cures to COVID-19 such as drinking hot water every twenty minutes. While this appeals to every fibre of our being, while we want to believe there could be a fix just lying around in our own homes, this is unfortunately not the case.
The Chief Scientific Officer’s in England and Wales have been clear of the solutions available to us. They have offered three ways to combat the virus, and at this time it is crucial we take these on board.
- vaccination – which is still believed to be 12-18 months away
- enough people develop immunity through infection
- or permanently change our behaviour/society
It is crucial the public take the time to familiarise themselves with the official advice coming out of Government. In Wales, you can look to Public Health Wales and the Welsh Government for all the latest measures being taken to help combat COVID-19.
The strategy in all four corners of the UK is to reduce the demand on our NHS, making sure we can treat those who have the most need.
We can do this in a few very simple ways. Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives. We should only leave the house for the following reasons:
- Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
- One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
- Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
At this crucial time it is more important than ever that we do not get sucked into bold claims and theories which could end up being harmful, not just to ourselves but to our friends and family who may be more vulnerable.
The NHS needs to be protected as well. We simply will not have enough intensive care beds or ventilators to protect everyone unless we can significantly slow the spread of this disease. The NHS in Wales is working tirelessly to increase this capacity and frontline staff are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of this virus.
But this cannot be achieved unless we come together as a nation and make sure we comply with what is being asked of us. Every one of us has a critical role to play – listen to official advice to slow the spread of the disease, ensure you know how, when and where to get help and care so you get timely support without putting un-necessary pressure on the health and care system.
We can all make a difference – look after yourself and those around you.
Darren Hughes is the Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation