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Posts tagged ‘Covid-19’

Towards the end of lockdown?

FEC9738E-C6D1-4076-9488-52DFE7397102We are on the edge of a precipice. Yet this government wants to push us over the edge. According to Public Health England, over 110,000 people have died from COVID-19, 800 in the last week. There is a 7-day average of 10,000 new cases, and 21,000 people are receiving treatment for covid in the NHS.

The review of the lockdown and the consideration of reducing restrictions is already being touted by ministers. Boris Johnson seems determined to send pupils back to school at the beginning of next month and neither pupils nor most teachers will have been vaccinated. Surely that’s a high-risk strategy? Opening the pubs again in April can only lead to a further increase in covid cases. 

Yes, 15 million people have had their first vaccination, most of whom won’t get their second jab within the 2-3 week clinical guidance. They will have to wait 12 weeks for greater freedom. What sort of freedom? We don’t know as yet. We don’t know the vaccine efficacy with such long gaps. Even after my second jab, I’m going to be very cautious about where I go and who I meet. 

For many disabled people, lockdown is an extension of our everyday lives. We’ve only had more involvement in our communities because everyone else has discovered Zoom. We’re old hands at using it and have been eagerly showing others the way. 

Will we go back to crowded meetings in inaccessible halls? Will we suddenly find that unless we go somewhere in person, we cannot access culture or community events? 

We have been cocooned, safe in our homes. I’ve not missed busy, noisy shops. I’ve not missed overcrowded public transport. How will we be protected from those who refuse to be vaccinated? Will people still wear masks and observe social distancing? 

The scientists say that the lockdown needs to continue, but will the government follow the science? They’ve not done so until now. What would make them actually do the right thing for public health? 

Leaving home feels scary with such high levels of infection. If there were only 1,000 daily infections, or 50 deaths, or just 500 people in hospital, that would feel a great deal safer. 

The Zero Covid campaign seeks to persuade government to stop the cycle of repeated lockdowns and only lift restrictions when the number of new cases is close to zero. New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam and China have all used this strategy.

If the U.K. had continued with the lockdown in June 2020 (when there were still 31,600 new cases of covid per week) and followed a zero covid strategy, we would not be in lockdown now and tens of thousands of people would still be alive. The Tories reckless strategy of focusing on businesses and profit, rather than people and safety, has blighted the lives of almost every family in the country.

The Independent Sage committee of scientists and the Hazards Campaign for workplace safety have both been advocating for a UK zero covid strategy. 

Figures quoted at the end of last year show that only 11% of people who were told to isolate by the NHS Track and Trace did so. This clearly shows why covid is continuing to spread. There must a financial incentive for everyone who is told to self-isolate. 

Extra economic support for those who are on low incomes and cannot afford to self-isolate is vital. There must be practical help for people living in overcrowded homes to self-isolate, such as hotel accommodation. The government should compensate everyone who has lost income because of the pandemic. 

All ports of entry to the UK must operate covid screening, and where necessary effective quarantine with further testing. The current chaos at airports must end, with passengers from high-risk countries separated out before passport control. 

As a nurse, used to ensuring staff follow infection control policies and procedures, to protect those we care for, all of this is common sense. I’m frustrated and angry that this government can’t understand the basics of how and why viruses spread. 

Yes, I know the economy is important, but so are people’s lives and their safety. Too many of my friends have already died. There will be too many memorial services to attend. 

The NHS waiting lists for surgery and MH services are longer than ever. Surgeries can be moved into the private sector. But that will not work for those people who need experienced psych support. Yes, there will be private services the NHS could access, but they will be quickly over burdened. They are also used to a very different clientele, with very different concerns. 

If you want to know more about the campaign, go to the Zero Covid website.

COVID-19 Vaccination Day

Picture of a Covid vaccine vialI’ve longed for this day, but now it’s here, I’m exhausted and worried. 

Exhausted because it’s been months since I’ve left home and I’ve forgotten how difficult it can be to dress and get ready to go out. My partner had a Zoom meeting so couldn’t help me. It took 30 mins to get into my jeans – at least I hadn’t put on any weight – put socks and boots on and make sure I had everything I needed in my bag. Even though my coat was out of the wardrobe and ready for me to put on, I still struggled with getting it on. I had put my bag on the end of the bed and didn’t realise how near the edge it was. It fell to the floor, and I had to grab it from there. More exhaustion and pain. 

Navigating my chair through the front door and up the ramp to my car, I already felt tired. Would all this effort be worth it? Would I get my jab? The nurse I spoke with when I booked my appointment asked me about drug allergies. I have several, including one which resulted in a cardiac arrest, so she warned me that the PfizerBiontech jab may not be safe for me. I would need a doctor to assess me at the vaccination hub. 

It felt strange driving across London, with almost empty streets. Looking at the people, it was shocking how few were wearing masks. There was a huddle of a dozen young people outside a donut shop. No social distancing and only one person wearing a mask. No wonder the virus rates in London are so high. 

Arriving at the hospital, we got a parking space on only our second circuit of the small carpark. I got my chair out of the boot and we looked for signs to the hub. It was so long since I’d been at the hospital, I’d forgotten where the route to where we needed to be. Help from a staff member quickly set us off in the right direction. It was good that everyone inside was wearing masks. The corridors had barriers telling people to keep to the left-hand side, to ensure social distancing. Everywhere was unusually quiet. There were no wards on this level, only admin offices and outpatient departments. 

Going into the hub, the noise felt overwhelming. The babble of conversation and names being shouted out was disturbing at first. Everyone I could see was wearing masks. I’d not been in such a crowded space for over a year and have previously avoided busy, crowded places. Social distancing was down to one metre rather than two in the waiting area. The reception desk clerk was a solider, surprising as we were miles from the nearest barracks. 

Booking in was swift and easy. I was told that the hub was running 30 minutes late, so settled down to catch up on reading my emails. It reassured me to read a US research study that the PfizerBiontech had a very low rate of adverse reactions. 

Meanwhile, my carer was trying to book for his jab. His GP surgery had not given him an appointment. As a frontline care worker, he should have had his jab some weeks back. Eventually he got everything sorted, and it was then time for me to go through to see if I would get my jab. The medical area seemed crowded with little social distancing, except between the desks and between the injection pods. Staff were standing very near each other, as it was the only way they could communicate. 

I went through my medical history with a nurse, confirming my allergies and that I wasn’t allergic, as far as I knew, to any of the components of the vaccine. She appeared disbelieving that giving me lignocaine could cause a cardiac arrest, and she hurriedly went over to a doctor to check if I could still have the jab. Yes, came back the reply, I could, but would need to have my epipen available and stay to be checked for 30 minutes after getting the jab, rather than the usual 15 minutes. So relieved.

I quickly rummaged in my bag to find the epipen. Only to discover it wasn’t there. No idea why, as I always had it with me when going out. So many cafes and restaurants don’t label food or know ingredients properly. My nut allergy means I never risk being without at least one epipen nearby. I knew there was one in my car and signaled to my carer to ask him to collect it for me. I found it shocking that I needed to have my epipen with me. Presumably this meant that there was no adrenaline available in the hub. It’s in the middle of a large teaching hospital, A&E wasn’t nearby. Surely there should be some provision for emergencies?

Paperwork completed, I wheeled over to the pod, and the staff there moved everything around so I got some privacy. The person checking my paperwork queried if I was ok to have the injection. She misread my allergy information, thinking it related to one of the vaccine components. I reassured her and rolled up my left sleeve, ready for the injection. I couldn’t get my sleeve high enough on my arm so a medical student – the only person I saw with a name tag – moved it it to the right place. The nurse quickly gave me the jab. I got my sticker and my vaccine card, then was directed to the waiting area, having been told that someone would keep checking on me until I was ok to go home. I declined a drink and biscuit as there were no tables and my grip isn’t strong enough to manage both without dropping one. 

I pulled my phone back out of my bag and started reading again. 10 minutes later, no one had checked on me. There was a care assistant or cleaner who was doing the teas and wiping down chairs, but no other staff came to see me. 15 minutes later, still no nurse, 20 minutes later, the same. Luckily, I was feeling absolutely fine. I waited another 10 minutes and then asked the care assistant if it was ok for me to go before a nurse saw me. She told me I could go whenever I was ready, so I wheeled out to join my carer and go home. 

The journey home was quick and easy. I was feeling ok, but really exhausted and so pleased to have help to get undressed once I was back in my own space. 

As the evening continued, I still didn’t have any side effects from the jab, no headache, no sore arm, no fever or feeling unwell. I felt very relieved and so pleased that I will soon have some protection from this ghastly virus. I’m still concerned about this 12 week delay when the manufacturer recommends 3 weeks, but there is nothing I can do to change that time lag. 

In the meantime, having the jab means I can have clients visit me at home, which will really help those people who struggle with using the phone or Zoom. I’m not even thinking about going out. Even when lockdown ends, I’m still going to be very cautious about leaving home again.

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