Sorry, but I need to use the c-word

  • Why I’ve been silent on coronavirus until now
  • This media hype is so dangerous
  • The best ways to protect your health right now

I’ve held back on writing about this…

For numerous reasons that I’ll explain in a moment.

But today, I need to use the c-word.

Yes, coronavirus, otherwise known as Covid-19.

Every news bulletin and all the front pages are filled with worrying stories about the spread of this virus.

There has been a lot of misinformation…

A lot of panic buying of toilet roll and hand sanitiser…

And crazy photos of people with Tesco carrier bags over their heads on the London underground or in gas masks and rubber gloves while waiting for trains at Milton Keynes.

The mainstream media, under the guise of ‘genuine concern’, has been loving all this. They’re rolling out the pandemic news in a steady stream.

Much of the coverage is now as hysterical as many of the public have become – and all BECAUSE of the media. It’s a vicious circle.

So this is why I’ve not contributed to the problem by leaping into the story like many health news commentators.

I’ve been writing this service a long time and I’ve seen two major swine flu and bird flu outbreaks…

They caused an astonishing amount of global panic…

With terrifying projected figures of the multiple millions who they said would die…

Neither transpired as the horror shows that the media made out.

This flu virus is no different.

So rather than flail into your inbox with my uninformed opinions as the outbreak began, I decided to wait and see how the story unfolded before giving you my considered thoughts.

Now, before I go on…

I’m not doubting the very serious threat of a pandemic. They can happen and will happen. Another catastrophic epidemic like we saw in 1918 could be even worse in the future because of our globalised, interconnected world.

Neither am I minimising the very real fears of any readers who have problems with heart health, lowered immune system or serious disease…

They will be susceptible and they’ve a right to be worried.

As they should EVERY flu season.

Why the flu is always dangerous

Here in the UK an average 600 people die from complications caused by flu every year – but this number can rise sharply in a particularly bad flu season.

For instance, in 2013-14 a shocking 11,000 people died from flu-related causes.

So let’s put the current situation in perspective…

Yes, there are some deaths from this flu, but the media is reporting on each and every one as front page news.

Imagine if they had done that in 2014!

People would be running screaming through the toilet roll aisles clutching tins of spaghetti hoops.

But they didn’t… even though almost as many people might have been at risk.

Neither did everyone during that outbreak obsess over handwashing – although they SHOULD HAVE DONE, as they should every year, in order to avoid so many deaths.

So why this panic now?

Beware this media hype

It’s all about how these stories are presented by the news services we trust to look after our best interests – but they really don’t.

The media hype on this story is out of control. It’s making the situation worse.

The death statistics we are hearing from countries like Italy sound pretty terrifying but of course they do – any death from illness is a horrible thing to read about.

But again, this is the flu. It’s lethal. When you drill down into the stats every year it becomes quite shocking.

However, panicking is not the way forward.

I don’t know why but the reaction by some to this perceived crisis has been to hoard products, become fearful of others who look different and act with pure self-interest.

Panic-buying hand sanitiser will just mean that other, more vulnerable people will not have any, which will mean they spread germs, making the situation worse.

We need to think like a community – what’s good for everyone is also good for us as individuals.

Here’s what Abdu Sharkawy, doctor and an infectious diseases specialist said about it on Facebook:

“Let’s meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing.”

So yes Covid-19 is something to worry about, just as ANY usual flu is something to worry about.

But it’s certainly not something that should make you move into a bunker in your garden or wipe out your town’s toilet roll supply.


How to best protect your health right now

What you should do right now is what you should do every year during flu season:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough
  • Use a tissue and throw it away immediately after use
  • Be sensible and stay in if you have flu symptoms

Make sure that your immune system is as strong as it can be. This will give your body the best chance of landing a knockout punch if it’s under attack.

During flu season I recommend three things:

  • Eat a diet with plenty of fruit and veg – if you can’t, then consider a top-up of bio-available vitamins.
  • Second, make sure you are getting enough vitamin D – most of us have a deficiency at this time of year and it makes you more vulnerable to getting coughs, cold and flu. Click here for more details.
  • Thirdly, keep your respiratory system as clean and healthy as possibly using this salt cleanser – just a few inhalations daily will do it: click here for more details.

None of these are cures for flu but they will help you avoid it as best as possible and tolerate it better if you do catch it.

They key is not to panic, just because everyone around you is in a flap and because the media is drip-feeding you scary stories on a minute-by-minute basis.

Constant anxiety is bad for us – it lowers our immune response, raises blood pressure and causes problems with sleep.

If anything, I recommend taking long breaks from the news and keeping a sense of perspective.

Yours as ever

Good Life Letter