The time has come for us to start looking at the risk of Covid-19. This is what has everyone anxious. Up to now there has been a high degree of uncertainty about the virus. We now have real life experience from over 30 million cases and one million deaths.
Our Ministry Of Health (MOH) has done its best to scare everyone into thinking that a positive test is something bad and that you have a high chance of being hospitalized and possibly dying if you test positive. This is incorrect. For the first five months of the outbreak this position was counter productive. It discouraged people from taking the test, making it into something shameful if you were positive, and fearful because you were likely to be hauled off to be quarantined for an indefinite period.
They have now made the same mistake with masks. Masks are a key part of controlling the Covid virus but they have made not wearing a mask a sort of sin, established by the gang of three inside the Ministry of Health. If you walk around with your mask below your nose, you are a sinner and the police coming for you. Same thing if your two toddlers in the car don’t wear masks or if a fisherman falls into the sea or the old lady down the road forgets to put on her mask to take out her garbage.
Luckily we’ve had a Commissioner of Police who is more sensible and has more important things to do than respond to a politician’s imagination. An alarming side-effect of lockdown has been the readiness of people to accept curbs on our personal liberty without complaint. The word of authority has been obeyed even at inconvenience, cost and harm to individuals and families.
Rather than trying to shame people they should be educating us on the risk of getting Covid-19. There are sites that do this and you can check for yourself:
You can summarize the risk like this: When it comes to spreading Covid, not all activities are created equal. Anything you do in life is a risk. We all know this. Every time you leave your house to travel in T&T, there is a risk. The risk depends on where you live, traffic, how well you drive, how fast you drive, whether you have been drinking alcohol, your mood, etc, etc, there are dozens of factors. The risks of many activities have been calculated.
The risk of dying from jogging or swimming is one in a million. Bungee jumping is one in 500,000. Riding a bike is one in 141,000. That must be in Europe, not here. The general risk of dying in your car is one in 7000.
You cannot be that specific for Covid as yet but you can divide Covid activities into high risk; medium risk and low risk. The principle is viral exposure over an extended period of time (hours). In general outdoor activities are much safer than indoor ones. Any environment that is enclosed, with poor circulation and high density of people, spells trouble.
My Guardian and medical colleague Dr Joel Teelucksingh has referred to the three C’s: Closed spaces; Crowded areas and Close contact settings such as close range conversations. Avoid them.
Nightclubs are the ultimate high-risk activity, followed by seeing a concert or play, attending an indoor party, visiting an indoor bar, attending a sports stadium, going to church and going to the gym.
Also considered high risk, but less so than the above activities, is attending a wedding or funeral, hugging or shaking hands, not wearing a face mask, visiting an amusement park and eating at a buffet. Avoid these situations.
Medium-risk activities include: staying at a hotel, hosting a small indoor dinner party, using a public pool, visiting a shopping centre, getting a haircut, travelling on a plane, and sending kids to school or nursery. The decision here is yours. Low-risk activities are things like going to get takeaway food, exercising outdoors, playing tennis, playing golf, going to the beach or river, going to a petrol station and camping.
Other relatively low-risk activities, include: going to a properly organised supermarket, outdoor dining, visiting a library or museum, visiting your doctor and walking in a busy town centre (outdoors). There should be little hesitation for doing these things.
It is not easy. There are factors to consider in addition to the activities. These include: how many people there are around you, how close the contact is between these people, how long they are exposed to each other, whether they’re indoors or outside, how many cases there are in the local area and how likely people are to comply to Covid rules in that area.
But the risk is now manageable and we have to learn to live with it while going about our lives before the economy and our mental health fail.