Several areas in Wales are now in local lockdown, the nearest being Llanelli (pronounced chlanechli with a soft ch like in loch) which is about 35 miles away and in the same county. It is the first time a local lockdown has not been across a whole local authority area and it would be no surprise if it was extended even though this very rural area has very few cases. Most of the restrictions are in the more urban areas so about two thirds of the population are affected even though they cover much less of the land area.
The latest moves to halt the spread of the virus coincided with a management meeting at Dyfed Permacultire Farm Trust where we discussed requests to hold some events in our partly built roundhouse. Being unfinished it has a roof to keep the rain off but no walls so counts as an outdoor space! Today I went to the dentist to have a broken filling replaced – a treatment scheduled for the first week of full lockdown at the end of March. All these things coming together made me realise that throughout this pandemic I have been making my own risk assessments of potential activities.
Some time ago I listened to a radio podcast which mentioned that ALAMA (the Association of Local Authority Medical Advisors) had produced a way of assessing an individuals risk of being severely affected by Covid 19. The idea seems to be that a local authority can work out which employees are high risk and should be asked to work from home and who is low risk so can reasonably be expected to get the bus to work and sit in the office. Out of interest I looked at the website (https://alama.org.uk/covid-19-medical-risk-assessment/). It seems I am at moderate risk despite being 70, because I am female, white anglo saxon and in good health. So it seems I don’t need to be ultra cautious.
However moderate is not low! Then another podcast mentioned the work of a scientist who believes that the improvement in survival rates is not wholly explained by improved expertise in treating those who fall ill. He noticed a close correlation with the rising temperatures in spring and summer. He works mainly on some obscure chemical in the mucus which our lungs produce all the time to catch bugs and pollutants and which is swept up to the throat and down into the stomach where the acids kill all the nasties. This system works best in damp air. So in winter when we all huddle in centrally heated homes and offices where the air is usually very dry it is less effective. Come the warmer weather we open windows, go outside more and the mucus works better. Unusually the Covid-19 virus is not killed by stomach acid (which had me wondering how effective all these alcohol gels are but that is another issue) and that , he thinks, is why some people have a sort of gastric flu not the classic cough. Luckily that version is much less likely to kill you. Not being able to breathe is the really dangerous effect. He suggested drying washing in the bedroom, opening windows and going outside as often as possible. Since none of those can be monetised he is not expecting any funding for clinical trials to test his ideas any time soon! On the other hand they are all things I do anyway so it seems that if I do get infected I may stand a slightly improved chance of surviving.
The new unfinished roundhouse at Dyfed Permaculture Farm Trust. We are now finding its unfinished state very useful!
Ideally of course I should try not to get infected in the first place. Which means limiting my contact with other people and especially with other people who have, themselves, contact with a lot of people. Most of the time I am here on my own. The friends and neighbours I meet are just as isolated as I am so unlikely to infect me but we meet outside whenever possible. The meetings I need to go to are held out of doors in the unfinished roundhouse pictured above. The hairdresser I go to is scrupulously careful and the dentist this morning was in full PPE. The library quarantines books between each loan and I have to request my selection online then get an appointment to drop off my returns and collect my new books through an open door. I have, though, decided that I will not shop in the supermarkets. At the cost of losing some choice of products I can get everything I need in local shops which are generally quieter and where so far social distancing has been carefully maintained. I am also using Amazon for household items which might involve me going to several shops before finding what I am looking for.
Probably my greatest regular risk is working with Laura who lives in the cabin in the garden rent free in return for helping me in the garden. When we work together we are outside or in a very large and well ventilated shed and mostly more than 2 metres apart. Since Laura works in a care setting she is in contact with quite a few people but part of her role is to educate the students in her care about the need to observe the pandemic rules. Overall she seems a relatively small risk and the benefit of her help is considerable.
Next weekend I will go to visit my daughter. The first visit since she left her husband and moved into her own home. She lives in a large town in England and works in a school. It will be the biggest risk I have taken in 6 months! Well worth it to see her and her new place. I will just have to balance it by being extra careful when I get back – not just for my sake but so that if I have picked up Covid-19 I keep it to myself and don’t spread it around.
How are you managing the risks at present? I would love to hear how you are making your assessments and anything you have found useful. It seems we are nowhere near the end of this pandemic so all help gratefully received!