Keep Calm and Carry On (COVID-19)

“Put hand-soap on the shopping list, the family bathroom is running low and your parents are coming Sunday” is what I said to my partner a few days ago. When we got to the store the hand soap aisle was empty and there was a little sign saying limited to 5 per customer. I was baffled until my partner pointed out its because people are panic buying due to Coronavirus.

“What?! People are actually doing that?” I said.

And it’s not just hand soap. We were also after ibuprofen, which the store was almost completely out of; people have panic bought the 35p variety but there’s still plenty of Nurofen hanging about. After all, best not spend too much when you’re preparing for the apocalypse, right?

Good job we weren’t in need of toilet roll.

Toilet roll? Really? Coronavirus doesn’t cause diarrhoea (except in severe cases). Fortunately, we buy our toilet paper in bulk from who Gives a Crap so we’ve got a small stash. These guys sell toilet rolls made out of recycled paper and also give 50% of their profits to charity.

Psychologists suggest that we panic buy for several reasons. However, seeing others panic buy or stocks running low, can trigger the urge to buy more than we need creating a crazy cycle of panic buying.

Panic buying is selfish

By panic buying items such as toilet paper, hand wash, facemasks and hand sanitizer and hoarding them, you are preventing those who actually need these items from having access to them.

If people cannot get hold of hand soap when they’ve run out because you’ve got 20 bottles under your sink, how are they going to kill the Covid-19 on their hands? They’re at risk from infecting themselves, sneezing and coughing without being able to wash their hands so ultimately infecting you, no matter how much hand soap you may have.

Short supplies also lead to 3rd party resellers attempting to cash in by selling these items at ridiculous prices, further increasing the mayhem.

Hand sanitizer, does it even work?

Yes, but experts agree that it is not as effective at getting rid of bacteria and viruses from your hands as regular soap and water, especially if you’re not following correct alcohol gel hand-washing procedures.


The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, as sanitizers with lower concentrations of alcohol aren’t as effective at killing germs. However, the NHS have recommended gels that are at least 70%.

Due to the alcohol content, hand sanitizer is also very drying for your skin. So, you might want to follow up with a moisturiser.

Covid-19 Let’s look at the facts

Who is at risk
  • Anyone of any age can get infected with Covid-19. Most people will only show mild- moderate symptoms.
  • The Mortality Rate is estimated to be at 3.4%.
  • Of those infected, the people who are most at risk of serious illness are the elderly and those with underlying health concerns such as diabetes and cancer.
  • The below table shows the current Mortality Rate by age:
all cases
80+ years old 14.8% – 21.9%
70-79 years old 8.0%
60-69 years old 3.6%
50-59 years old 1.3%
40-49 years old 0.4%
30-39 years old 0.2%
20-29 years old 0.2%
10-19 years old 0.2%
0-9 years old no fatalities
  • Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia.
Number of cases
  • As of 12/03/2020 there have been 129,842 cases reported worldwide.
  • 62% of which have been in China.
  • The image below may put it into perspective:
Correct as of 12/03/2020
Facemasks don’t work
  • Disposable facemasks will not protect you from Covid-19. These masks protect against large particles in the atmosphere and viruses are small enough to pass through them.
  • Airborne viruses can infect a person through their eyes, so unless you’re going to start wearing goggles…
  • Only “N95” masks are able to block particles as small as viruses.
  • Masks rapidly lose effectiveness, especially when damp – your breath will make them damp.

Advice from health professionals and government bodies is that you should only be using facemasks if you have tested positive for the virus or if you are coughing and sneezing (to protect others from you).

By panic buying facemasks you deplete supplies for those who really need them and for health professionals who require protection when treating the sick.

Protect yourself and others

The kids might be excited about the prospect of getting a few days off school if they temporarily get shut down, but they might not be thinking about their elderly, much-loved grandparents.  

Healthy kids and adults will likely recover from Covid-19 without the need for medical intervention. However, by washing your hands frequently and quarantining yourself if necessary, you can help slow down the spread of the virus and protect the vulnerable people in our community. 

Wash your hands & avoid touching your face

  • Before eating or handling food
  • Every time you cough or sneeze
  • After travelling on public transport or visiting public places
  • When you arrive home

What else should we be doing?

At the current rate of contagion, it’s likely that a large portion of the population will be infected with Covid-19 over the next few months. This is not a reason to panic, as mentioned most people will have flu-like symptoms and be able to fight off the infection by themselves without the need for medical care.

The best way to ensure you can fight infection by yourself? Look after your immune system!

– Regular exercise has been proven to boost your immune system.

– Eat a balanced diet and consider taking supplements to get any nutrients you might be missing.

– Stay hydrated. Good hydration helps the body work optimally and fight off infection.

– Reduce your stress levels, prolonged stress reduces the effectiveness of your immune system.  So don’t panic when watching the news. This is not the apocalypse. Make sure you stay up to date with the advice given to you by the government etc., but don’t let the media scare you unnecessarily.  

– Get enough sleep.

Boosting your immune system could also help you fight off other bugs & nasties that going around, which can prevent a trip to the doctors & consequently reduce the strain on healthcare professionals.

You should also disinfect surfaces such as door handles and shared phones, regularly. For those concerned about the environment, Wilko has just released plastic-free antibacterial wipes!

Keep Calm

Am I concerned? Yes, for my partner who is a type one diabetic (and for my elderly grandad). But we live in a country with good health care and if either of us were to become seriously unwell I know we’d be able get treatment.

So, let’s help the health services out by being sensible. Wash your hands as necessary, focus on protecting others and protect yourself by looking after your immune system.

(UK) Call 111 if you exhibit:
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Flu-like symptoms

Do not go to the doctors/hospital unless you need urgent care as doing so potentially puts vulnerable already ill people at risk.

References  – Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry.

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