Who you gonna call?


So, I don’t plan on entering into the huge Coronavirus debate on here. I have my thoughts, and lots of people I know disagree with my viewpoint, so I have no desire to start any further debates here. I also feel that the media and social media are huge driving forces adding to the panic and hysteria so writing more about it isn’t all that helpful.

However, in spite of all that, I realised that this virus presents a very strange and unique predicament that I might need to plan for, which I thought was worth writing about.

I believe it is likely that my daughter and I will probably get coronavirus, and that it will almost certainly be very mild. We are both healthy and fit, under 40, and have no other health concerns. We might feel a bit ill, or not even really notice we’ve had it. I do not expect that either of us will be ill enough to require hospital treatment, as 80% of cases are mild and can be treated at home in the same way you would treat regular flu.

So far so good. No problem.

But what if, when I get it, the fever or cough is worse than I am expecting? What if it’s like the one time a few years ago when I had actual flu and I was so weak and shaky and unwell that I spent 3 days in bed, aching, feverish and throwing up. If that does happen, what if I can’t look after my 2-year old?

As a single parent, I have a support team and a plan – if it was any other illness, and I needed help, I’d ask my local friends or neighbours to take my daughter out to the park or to their house for an hour or two so I could rest. Or I might ask my mum to come down and stay and help out while I recover. In normal circumstances I wouldn’t be worried about spreading the flu or a cold. 

However, in this era of self-isolation and containment, who could you ask for help? How many of your friends could you really ask to deliberately infect themselves with this specific virus that everyone is terrified of? My neighbours are pregnant or have existing health conditions, and it wouldn’t be fair to ask them. My mum is over 60 with a pre-existing health condition, and some of my friends have asthma or other health problems, or have young children at home, so wouldn’t want to spread it or expose their families. For many people out there, the grandparents are the go-to support option for parents with kids, but in this case there is a much higher risk factor if you ask the older generation to step in and help.

Who could you ask for help in this context? How many of your friends would be willing to take 2 or 3 weeks off work to come and stay and be quarantined with you? How many would be willing to expose themselves knowingly to the virus on your behalf? Again, were it regular flu, this wouldn’t be a particular concern, but with the current media frenzy, fear and hysteria, it’s a really big thing to ask. Even if the symptoms they might get are mild, they would certainly have to isolate themselves for weeks after helping you.

I suppose one option is to try and find other people who have been exposed or quarantined but aren’t yet feeling ill, or group together for quarantine, knowing they might get it later on, so they could help you, then later you could help them in return. Maybe there is a local single parent network and you could temporarily buddy-up and move in together for quarantine.

I believe this scenario is extremely unlikely to be an issue, and I am not especially worried about it. But it’s a worst-case scenario that I currently have no contingencies for. And I wonder how many other single parents out there are wondering who they’re gonna call….

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