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  • Lawrence Bailey

Covid is no hoax, believe me

I had one of those life-changing episodes a week or so ago. I was just coming back into the house from the garden when my wife announced from the kitchen doorway that we had both tested positive for Covid-19.

Needless to say this came as a shock – a fact I offer as defence for coming out with some very rude words, not realising that she was still on speaker phone with the nurse.

It didn’t make sense. There were none of the advertised symptoms involved but we’d both been feeling unwell enough to take up the offer of a test. We then voluntarily went into social isolation, just in case.

As an ex-smoker with a series of underlying health problems common to Welsh males in my age group, I’ve been scrupulous about washing hands, wearing a mask and keeping socially distanced.

When the contagion made itself felt, it was something similar to a very heavy cold. I found it more or less manageable for the first few days. Then the roof fell in.

The actual onset is sudden and frightening. What’s more, the steadily weakening effect of the virus is remorseless. I can understand how people are overwhelmed, if only by fatigue.

There is no neat linear progression as regards effects. I never once recorded a high temperature but I had agonising coughing spasms that made my ribs feel they were coming adrift.

Then I experienced sudden muscle cramps in the legs followed by violent bouts of shivering. It wasn’t until seven days had passed before my taste and smell were affected. By then, I didn’t much care.

The scary part comes when you realise that you need to concentrate on catching your breath. At that point, you don't really know how things are going to turn out.

So please, be under no illusions and don’t listen to the populist nonsense spouted by the ignorant, this virus is not a simple case of nasty flu – and it is most definitely not, repeat, not a hoax.

The other bad news I need to share with you that recovery is nothing like straightforward. I've learned that our systems need some considerable time to develop and then deploy antibodies. As a result, each morning is Covid Groundhog Day as you discover that it’s still not over yet.

We’ve been very lucky. Firstly because we only experienced the “mild-to-moderate” version and also because we’ve had good friends who’ve kept a close eye on us when it matters. Compare that basic decency to some of the callous commentary about lockdown measures on social media in this locality by so-called grown-ups.

I despair of the Covid deniers who somehow gained virology degrees overnight and try to cite the Swedish anti-lockdown approach as an alternative.

It’s no surprise that they gloss over the extensive death rate. But they also forget to add that Swedish constitutional law specifically prohibits any arbitrary restriction on personal freedom of movement.

As a result, the government was limited to banning gatherings along with visits to nursing homes. They also physically closed secondary schools and universities.

Then you get the “herd immunity” crowd who don’t understand – or even care – that this is only possible when measures also include a workable vaccine. That’s what happened with MMR and measles.

Professionally speaking, I don’t claim to know much about coronavirus but I do have a bit of expertise in statistics and particularly in risk analysis.

One of the things you learn is that risk is a very personal thing. Each of us have different thresholds. The odds may stay the same each time we flip a coin, but we always focus on the stakes involved.

It’s this human survival trait that causes the right-wing ranters to get hissy fits. They were able to con a lot of people over the EU referendum with fake-news because their bile was aimed at a remote bureaucratic institution.

The things about coronavirus contagion however is that literally hits us where we live. Consequently, the conspiracy are going to have a hard time persuading anyone into taking an undue risk, no matter how shouty it all gets.

If you come away with one thing from reading this then I hope it’s the following message: The virus does not move about. We move about. It is not just a matter of keeping ourselves protected, we must demand that the places we visit do the same.

It only takes one exception to enable contagion – and that contagion is swift, unforgiving and without cure.

As I said, this is no hoax, believe me.


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