As our lives get back to normal, one can’t help but wonder what if I get coronavirus on my way to work, while shopping at my local supermarket or even from my pizza delivery person? Further worse is the thought of getting the virus and passing it on to someone far more vulnerable.
The ability to express emotions through touch is deep-rooted in the history of mankind. It’s overwhelming the way a microscopic virus has altered the basic ways of human interaction. A gentle kiss or a warm hug have new meanings in 2020. From being symbols of affection they have turned into restrictions that somewhere endow a sense of protection.
To get over lockdown fatigue, Johanna Victoria went on for series of outings after the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in London. The relief of being able to have social interactions after months of lockdown was short-lived. In the coming week, she was tested positive for Covid-19 along with three members of her family.
“All the people I cared for had the virus and solely because of me. I still have a feeling that I was the carrier who got the virus home. It was not until they officially began to contact trace it that I had the guts to tell them it could be me,” Johanna tells Voice of London.
While uncertainty remains core to the ongoing pandemic, our response to it should have responsibility rather than fear as its core. Never before has an individual’s actions had such an impact of both risk and reassurance on people surrounding them.
Even after several routines of sanitisation and shielding oneself with the protective gear of masks and gloves, on some days the virus seems simply inescapable. The reality that you might transmit it to your loved ones haunts many the most.
Asymptomatic carriers or silent spreaders show absolutely no symptoms of the virus. No fever. No cough. No breathing issues. Nothing. Unknowingly they set out on a trail to pass on this virus to many people as they go on doing their daily jobs. This makes one thing clear: do not wait for symptoms to act on protecting people around you.
“There are days when the situation feels especially worrying. Every day is feared as much as the previous, or sometimes more. We have to follow SOP’s (Standard Operating Protocols) and government guidelines of self-isolating/not intermixing with other families – to keep not only ourselves but also our loved ones safe,” says Dr Ahmad Nissar, a frontline medic at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn.
But how does one act on such rigid rules that can be almost life-altering? The answer to this lies in simply accepting that this is not a regular situation and hence it does not have regular solutions to it.
“You have to do what must be done,” Dr Nissar adds.
Coronavirus can live for more than 24 hours in indoor environments. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using hand sanitizer regularly throughout the day will reduce the risk of catching or passing on the virus. pic.twitter.com/Mm7TtluyR6
— NHS London (@NHSEnglandLDN) October 18, 2020
Certainly, one has no control over the exponentially growing virus. Yet, being responsible for passing it on to others can take a heavy emotional and mental toll of a Covid-19 carrier.
It is a humanitarian crisis and the fear of hiding or trying to escape from the fact of being a carrier does not help us solve it.
The stigma and fear that comes with having Covid-19 can be harrowing, but one as a carrier is not to blame. Ultimately, it seems necessary that we would have to normalise and accept it as it happens to people around us and not shun or dismiss them.
Coming to terms with the reality of being a carrier after transmitting the virus to others might make many feel dejected and powerless. Such emotions more often than not start a series of mental breakdowns, making recovery a challenge. With an open mind, internalising the attitude of being empathetic rather than being judgmental as a society can do a lot to tackle these situations. The solution to this global problem starts with you.
In a statement to the New York Times, Tom Gardiner, a doctor on a respiratory ward at St. Mary’s Hospital in London said: “We’re managing at the moment, but on the edge, I’m going to get it quite soon. I think it is inevitable. I also think what is inevitable is me passing it to someone more vulnerable.”
The best solution to this problem is thinking of precaution as the most sensible option, but this does not necessarily guarantee us prevention from catching the virus.
Words: Shravani Chavan | Subbing: Gabriela Jimenez