Ebola can’t kill love. Nor can Covid-19.

Mother & Daughter
Imagine: all the love in the world and not being able to touch

It’s like being in prison. All your personal freedoms taken away. No contact with anyone – especially those you love.

And being under house arrest, all at the same time.

Because in a drastic bid to stop the spread of this dreadful disease, Ernest Koroma, President of Sierra Leone, has imposed a three-day curfew on all citizens – nobody can leave their home until 6.00 pm next Sunday, March 29.

No doubt about it, this is hell for the people of West Africa.

The end of the world

ANY contact is deadly. No hugs, no kisses, no caresses.

No soothing touch, or reassuring hand hold. No wiping fevered brows, or cleaning away vomit. No handling bloodied clothes or sheets. No physical care of any kind.

Worst of all, no washing the bodies of the dead in time-honoured respect.

Just the slightest touch and the disease transfers.

Inside two weeks, you’ll be dead yourself.

Not just heart-breaking, but beyond comprehension.

Because how can it ever make any sense to a people whose whole life is hands-on – touching and feeling and holding – all the soothing, reassuring gestures that people need when they are down? Or even just being themselves together with others?

Courage and resilience

But West Africans are strong people. Remarkably, they can even laugh at it.

A whole culture has sprung up based on non-contact. The no-touch Ebola handshake – the no-hold Ebola hug – friends just grin and take it in their stride.

Well there has to be something to smile about. The only way to survive this terrible disease is to put a ban on love.

Only love at a distance – caring words, eyes across a room.

Imagine being locked up together with your loved ones for three days and everything physical is forbidden.

And the lock is your own, closed shut to support your country. Voluntarily turning your back on all that life is about.

How many of us could even come close to achieving that for 72 hours – and day after day beyond that if any one of the family is sick?

Yet that is the sacrifice these unfortunate people have to make.

The love doesn’t die, it goes on forever. (Tweet this)

Love is the greatest

But the people die and suffer horribly for showing it. Whoever thought that touch could mean so much?

Which is why special walls display handprints across Liberia, Sierra Leone and everywhere else that Ebola is rife. The mark of survivors who have come through it and pledge themselves to helping others.

Nobody can stop love. But they can find other ways of showing it.

Originally posted on 6 September 2018

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Originally posted on 6 September 2018 @ 12:24 am

Originally posted on 6 September 2018 @ 12:24 am

No, Ebola doesn’t know it’s Christmas

Black baby Christmas
Taking away love is the cruellest death of all

Among the lyrics nay-sayers are objecting to in the new Do they know it’s Christmas song just released by Bob Geldof  & Co is “Where a kiss of love can kill you…”

It’s a heart-breaking reality for the people of West Africa, whose love and compassion is denied them by the highly contagious infect-on-contact nature of the virus.

The dignity of dying

It’s been much reported that the custom of touching and kissing the dying and the dead is a major cause of spreading this dreadful affliction.

How dare we be so heartless and uncaring!

We would all be better people for demonstrating such humanity. To show love to the dying is one of the greatest gifts of all. Unfortunately, with Ebola around, it will kill you.

Except maybe we’re not that uncaring – just misplaced in our thinking and unobservant of the ways of others. And maybe a little insensitive.

Here to help

This week, more volunteers flew into Sierra Leone – thirty NHS professionals, advance guard of over 1,000 highly motivated and committed young people.

As trained medics, it will be ingrained in them that patients must be isolated and contact restricted to professionals wearing proper protection. Not wrong, but itself adding to the crisis.

To locals they are the “spacemen” who take loved ones away, denying them the care and support of their family when they need it most. To avoid such heartbreak, they hide sick family members from them, stealing into the jungle to even more remote havens.

But unfortunately not they’re havens at all.  How ever far they run, Ebola will kill them for their love. Giving and loving is not on the agenda.

Where’s the love?

That makes it a bleak Christmas for everyone. As a celebration of love and compassion it belongs to the world – for Muslims, Buddhists, Jews and Hindus every bit as much as Christians. Love and compassion are qualities we all seek to show in our actions, 365 days a year.

In fitting tribute, in Germany, Japan and several other places round the world there are shops devoted to Christmas all year round. Such glitz and razzmatazz might overpower the underlying love, but the motive is still there. We care, we need to show it, Happy Christmas.

Which brings us back to Sierra Leone. If we need to show compassion anywhere, it’s here.

Yes, it’s amazing what’s happening. Professionals from around the world – particularly Britain – giving of themselves and risking their lives to be there. Money and resources can buy a lot of compassion.

But where is the love the locals need to show their own?

Well-meaning but insensitive

With our Western ways and perceptions, we steal it away from them just as surely as Ebola does. They can’t touch, feel, kiss, or be together. We rip them apart without knowing we are doing so. No wonder they flee to the jungle.

How would we feel if we were denied access to our own? Our own children, soul mate or parents taken away from us – as if we have committed a crime?

This is the REAL Ebola crisis, isn’t it?

How to let people show love.

And how to be genuine about it.

Big deal

So a bunch of pop stars get together to make a fund-raising song – they waive their fee but generate more publicity for themselves than they might otherwise have got on their own.

So the concerned among us make donations – dumping the guilt bucket and wallowing in feelgood.

So the gung-ho professionals arrive in West Africa – troops, medicos, nurses, gofers – boots on the ground, determined to stomp out this terrible virus once and for all.

But where’s the Christmas?

Where do the people of Sierra Leone get to show their love for the family who are suffering and dying? How do they show their love and respect for the dead?

Can we solve it with pastors, imams, rabbis and priests?

The hurt is in the heart

Have we any idea how hard it is to ask those people to let go? To get them to accept that it’s out of their hands, those lives are gone – unless by some lucky chance the medical professionals can bring them back again?

All we can do is think of them and try in every way we can. Recognise they all face the long good-bye and try to put ourselves in their position.

Because unlike them, we’re not good with dead bodies. They scare us, even when they’re our own family. A throwback maybe to 350 years ago, when we ourselves were faced with The Plague and in our ignorance we thought the slightest touch could do for us.

Be kind to these people, they’re humans just like us. Take them to your heart and love them in your own way. If the world shows love, maybe losing a loved one may not be so heart-breaking.

Love is the greatest gift of all and Ebola can’t have it.

Originally posted on 30 July 2018 @ 6:01 am