Earlier this week Dutch government ordered to close pubs and restaurants, is finally advising to wear a face mask in public indoor spaces including high schools (the legal ground to make it mandatory is pending), group sizes indoors and outdoors are now limited to four and alcohol sales are not allowed after 20:00. That last rule is probably a result of people massively buying alcohol in supermarkets after the previous 10PM closure time of cafes. This limited lock-down was to be expected since the daily count of new infections, nearly 8000 today, still has an upward trend. Luckily there are exceptions to these new rules, mainly for those under eighteen. That means Daughter can still go to dance classes.
It doesn’t really affect my behaviour as I already decided to retreat from public life as much as possible over a week ago.
The thing that bothers me though, is that people who are skeptical about these rules tend to focus on the number of deaths. There is undoubtedly a clear trend towards the elderly dying from covid-19. People who might also die from the common flue, or another viral or bacterial infection their bodies are too fragile to get rid of. However, the number of deaths is only half of the explanation why we need to tread carefully around this new virus. Even in the healthiest of people it can do a lot of damage. Long term fatigue and lasting organ damage are two of the things I’m hoping to avoid. Another long-lasting effect can be change in smell and taste. You may not think of this as a big deal, but when your beloved morning espresso smells like exhaust gas, you probably wish you never were infected with covid-19. And it can be a dangerous thing too, when you can’t properly smell. You might accidentally eat something that is overdue, resulting in food poisoning. Or you miss a gas leak in your home.
I think it’s really important for us all not to focus on death rates, but acknowledge that this virus can do a lot of damage in your body regardless of age. The medical world made huge jumps forward in finding treatments, tempering the progression of the illness. Countless vaccines are being tested on humans already. But hope is for tomorrow, reality is today. Today there is still a big chance to get seriously ill, there is no vaccine, there is no definitive medical treatment. Today (and for the coming weeks and months to come) we just have to dig in and wait until the shittiest part of the storm has passed. C’est la vie.
With covid-19 flaring up all over Europe again, only a month until US elections and Johnson announcing today he is ramping up to a no-deal Brexit, this is a time for me to follow a strict news diet again. I wrote a long piece about this in Dutch. Long story short, the best way to stay mentally healthy during the coming period is to limit your news intake and focus on the reality around you. You are in control. Unplug. Make your own life great again, while staying at home. But I bet that you, reading this, are already happily distancing yourself. Well done!