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I’m a GP in St Heliers and it’s really important we get the message out that if you’re worried about Covid19:
- STAY HOME AND PHONE 0800 358 5453
- DO NOT PRESENT UNANNOUNCED TO ANY MEDICAL FACILITY
“It’s just a cold/flu. I don’t know why we are making such a big fuss about it!” Quite a number of people in our community have expressed the above sentiment. This has prompted me to respond:
Yes, COVID-19 generally is a mild illness in 80% who catch it. So, if you permit me to use my group of friends as an analogy if 10 of us caught it:
8 of us will feel pretty well after a few days – the COVID-19 infection is like the common cold for these 8.
1 of us will feel like we’ve been run over by a bus – laid up in bed (maybe in a hospital bed even) and sick like a dog for over 2 weeks, then recover slowly to normal after a while.
1 of us will be severely unwell with pneumonia, requiring to stay in hospital and possibly needing ICU admission and help to breathe with a ventilator. There is a high probability this one friend will succumb, and die.
It is that 1 person we want to protect, as a community, as a city, as a country.
We know the COVD-19 virus is very contagious – we think up to 50% of our population will catch it. We want to slow the spread. To slow the person-to-person transmission, we need to practise good personal hygiene, self-isolation when unwell, and social distancing.
IF we don’t slow the spread hundreds then thousands will fall sick at the same time which will FLOOD and OVERWHELM our hospital system. We only have a finite number of ICU beds and ventilators in NZ. If the flood of severely ill COVID-19 patients comes all at once, our ICUs will not cope and doctors will then need to make the difficult decision who will need the last ventilator in the hospital when there are 5 patients needing it. MORE people than necessary will DIE. This is happening RIGHT NOW in Italy. Unfortunately, when our intensive cares are full with these covid patients others will die from noncovid illnesses/ heart attacks/ trauma etc as there will be no space for these people.
So no, it isn’t ‘just a cold/flu’. Yes, most will be mildly and inconveniently unwell. We are not worried about these well patients. We are worried for the vulnerable – the colleague with the kidney transplant; the grandmother with diabetes; the child with cystic fibrosis. When we play our part in the community, we give our vulnerable friends, family members and colleagues a fighting chance to survive this pandemic.
Social distancing and enforcing isolation is the best way to contain this! If you are unwell Stay home and phone the Healthline team on 0800 358 5453
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