Why we’ll all have to start living with coronavirus

Ill at work
Other people’s germs. We also breathe them when they’re not there

It’s not exactly like we didn’t know it was coming. Or that we didn’t know coronavirus was going to be bad.

Pandemics have happened before – and they’ll happen again. Maybe bigger, maybe badder.

And we’ll be just as unprepared next time too, even if our experts guide us 100% right.

Because it’s not as if we’re waiting for a bus, Nature is unpredictable.

Pandemics like storms

Which makes pandemics are more like storms. They can come along anytime. There’s a tornado coming, better take shelter – because if we don’t, a lot of us could die.

So, OK. We go into lockdown, like into a storm cellar. Stay safe at home while disease rages all round us. Out of harm’s way, where a virus can’t touch us.

Except sometimes the storm doesn’t go away. It hangs around for longer than we anticipate. Days instead of hours. Longer than our food lasts. Longer than we can stand being cooped up in an enclosed space.

So what then?

It’s still dangerous out there, but we’ve got to get out.

But venture out and inevitably the storm gets us.

Just when you thought it was safe

Some of us are buffeted and drenched, but OK. Some of us are picked up by a gust and flung hundreds of metres, a bit bashed up, but also OK. And some of us get hit on the head by a flying roof tile, dead before we hit the ground. Not OK.

Yes, but we knew the odds. If we’d stayed in the storm cellar, it wouldn’t have happened.

Which becomes a trade-off between how long the storm lasts and how long before we go stir crazy.

Stay, or take your chances, maybe even die.

Stay or die: your choice

Same thing with lockdown. And there’s not a lot that medics or governments can do about it. Storms and pandemics don’t recognise they exist. Nor the moaners and whingers and know-it-all media either.

At the whim of Nature, storms and pandemics happen whenever the hell they like. And keep coming back whenever the hell they like too.

So all of a sardine you’re caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Exposed. At the mercy of the elements – or whatever viruses and bacteria happen to be present.

If it’s a storm, you maybe get blown around, drenched in the odd downpour, delayed getting home by floods or fallen trees.

If it’s a pandemic, it grabs you to whatever your level of resistance.

Chances of survival

Fit and healthy, you can maybe shrug it off. Down with depression, it shoves razors down your throat, flushes you hotter than a blast furnace, or sandbags you with the worst headache ever. Already under the weather, and it hits your lungs, every breath a last gasp. Obese or old, and you feel the Grim Reaper alongside with every second.

It all depends on your state of mind and resilience. And no doubt about it, some people can hype themselves out of it by sheer will power. Others succumb, even though they’re quite healthy – just not protected enough by the will to survive.

So what’s the right way to play it? Choose to self-isolate at home, or must the government force you?

One thing’s for sure – if you go out there and get hit by a roof tile, it’s nobody’s fault but your own.

And that’s the reality.

Nobody’s fault. People might play the blame game, except what’s the point if they wind up dead?

Which is of course, the question on everybody’s mind.

So when is it safe to go back into the Big Wide World? What happens now?

And how safe is it once you’re there?

The virus has a two-week incubation period, maybe longer – and lots of people display no symptoms, even if they’ve got it. Things might LOOK safe, but you could still be exposed.

We are all of us exposed anyway to each other, virus or not. An issue likely to be more top-of-mind now we’re conscious of how easily illness can spread.

Personal germ cloud

Though it’s invisible, each of us is followed around by our own personal cloud of microbes, good and bad, part of our individual microbiome. Unique to each of us, this cloud is as distinctive as a retina scan or fingerprint. Pinpoint enough to identify which one of us out of a roomful of people might be carrying live coronavirus.

This cloud doesn’t just follow us – it also lingers in places where we’ve been. Walk into a room after everyone has gone home and the residual cloud of each of them is still present and waiting for you.

Normally, that’s not a worry. But these times are not normal. Which means it’s perfectly possible, even though we observe every precaution and social distancing, that we pick up coronavirus from an empty room hours after anyone was ever there.

Did you flush the loo?

Uh huh. And the closest parallel to that is like leaving the toilet unflushed.

Ew, unhygienic, right? Who wants to use a toilet still full of germs and waste after somebody else has used it?

But that’s exactly what every room we live and work in is full of every day. Invisible airborne germs and waste – exhalations of the microbes and carbon dioxide other people have breathed out – waiting for us to breathe in.

Until now, it hasn’t been an issue. Or even something we think about. Unconsciously though, we recognise the possibility. The colds and flu that seems to go round everybody at the same time. Or more unpleasant and unwanted sicknesses like norovirus, the winter vomiting bug.

Other people’s waste

How did we pick them up? From breathing in air laced with other people’s exhalations and microbiomes.

And right now, that’s a hygiene step we need to fix and quickly. Because we’re not that good at putting things into practice.

Back in the 1840’s, we learnt that hand washing was vital to reducing infections and keeping us safe. Fifteen years later we learnt that drinking water contaminated by sewage was also a cause of disease. And round about the same time we came to our senses that safe disposal of sewage itself was a major factor affecting our safety.

Today, thanks to coronavirus and nearly two hundred years later, we need to take the next step. Just like using the loo, to wash our hands and flush out the places we live and work in so they’re free from airborne germs every time after we’ve used them.

Bye bye coronavirus

It can be done too. The technology exists right now – all we have to do is use it.

Yes sure, we still need to be careful of each other. To practice social distancing, with gloves and masks where necessary to avoid spreading germs.

And now at last we can be rid of germs we never knew were a threat – the lingering invisible clouds that must finally go to make us really safe.

Coronavirus 2.0? It’s a hazard like cholera, typhoid and all the rest. But at least now we can handle it.

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.