After a last, glorious blast of heat, the British summer is almost over and we are now heading into autumn.
I normally love this time of year, but right now I am seriously worried the next few months will bring a big surge in coronavirus cases — if we aren’t already heading into a second wave, with rises in cases in parts of the UK.
Part of the problem with colder weather is that we spend more time indoors, allowing viruses to flourish. But we’re also all still learning how to Covid-behave and it’s a steep learning curve.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pictured during a visit to the Jenner Institute in Oxford. Like the flu, this coronavirus spreads when someone who is infected (but may not know it) coughs, sneezes, laughs, sings or shouts, spraying tiny droplets packed with viruses into the air
A few weeks ago my wife Clare and I went out with a couple of friends for a meal in a pub restaurant — the four of us ended up sitting close together, cheek by jowl with lots of other people shouting and having a good time.
There was no attempt at social distancing, none of the waiters wore masks and no one was asked to give their contact information. I must confess, it freaked me out — and I haven’t been back since.
I’m no germaphobe — our house has always been the average-family-with-dog type clean, we don’t use antibacterial soap and normally we do just a quick wipe of the surfaces — but with the R (the virus reproduction) rate cross the UK above 1, the figure at which cases can increase exponentially, more people are going to be exposed to the virus, and that’s a worry.
And I don’t think we can rely on a vaccine being widely available until the end of this year at the earliest.
As a man now in his seventh decade (I am 63), I tick two of the boxes for risk factors for severe Covid — my gender and older age — should I catch it.
I normally love this time of year, but right now I am seriously worried the next few months will bring a big surge in coronavirus cases — if we aren’t already heading into a second wave, with rises in cases in parts of the UK [File photo]
So what can we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones — beyond obvious things such as wearing a mask and practising social distancing?
Like the flu, this coronavirus spreads when someone who is infected (but may not know it) coughs, sneezes, laughs, sings or shouts, spraying tiny droplets packed with viruses into the air.
If you’re unlucky enough to be nearby, you can become infected by getting the virus on your hands (and later rubbing your eyes) or breathing in some of the viruses.
The longer spent with an infected person, particularly if you are close up indoors, the higher the risk.
So one of the things to do is avoid or reduce Covid-risky activities (Google ‘Covid risk’ for diagrams that conveniently break down routine activities into different risk categories).
The least risky include getting a takeaway or opening the post — which you will be pleased to know if you’re someone who leaves letters and parcels to ‘self-isolate’ for several days before handling.
‘Low to moderate’ risk are things like food shopping, eating outside at a restaurant, staying in a hotel for two nights and playing golf.
‘Moderate to high’ risk includes going to a hair salon, eating inside a restaurant, travelling by plane, and hugging or shaking hands.
The ‘high risk’ category seems pretty obvious — eating at a buffet, attending a religious service (particularly if it’s packed) and going to a bar or gym.
I’ve done plenty of the ‘low to moderate’ risk activities (including handling the post!); but in the ‘moderately high risk category’ there are things Clare, who is a GP, and I have consciously stopped doing — for instance, I haven’t shaken hands since early March, and