You may have heard about this virus called Corona Virus that has been spreading around the world like, well, a very spready virus.

More than 170 thousand cases and six and a half thousand deaths worldwide. With so much speculation, fear and misinformation around i thought it might be helpful to compile a few thoughts and links to help clear things up and help us all be a little more informed and creative in what we do with this. So if you find this helpful, please hit SHARE and let’s get this in front of as many people as possible. Let’s also slow down on sharing articles and thoughts and ideas that we haven’t checked out. Everyone has an opinion on this thing and a lot of those [even coming from doctors] have been hugely contradicting. So let’s try make sure before we add to the spread of misinformation.

Because it is relatively new, a lot of information around covid-19 is being figured out on a daily basis so it makes sense to keep an eye on reputable news spaces to help give yourself the best chance of having legitimate up to date information.

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A second thing to think about during this time, especially for those of us with more resources [money, savings, access to transport] than others, is how we can use our privilege in these times to help those less fortunate than ourselves. This could take the form of shopping or dropping off food for people we know who are self-isolating or quarantined.

On the question of self-isolating, we have to start taking seriously the number of people we come into contact with and reduce it as much as possible. To read a little more about flattening the curve, you can take a look at this article. My hockey and all of my work meetings have been called off as well as a few upcoming camps i was about to do. If the people making the decisions are not making the decisions then you need to speak up and at the very least remove yourself from those spaces. We are going to have to get creative over the next few weeks about how we maintain connection with people even if we cannot physically spend time with them. Think of old people in senior citizen homes for example and increase the phone calls over visits.

A helpful article looking at ten reasons why we don’t need to panic.

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This is a status i posted earlier:

If you employ someone to clean your house/garden let them know that you are still going to pay them and tell them NOT to come to work. The risk for people in townships once Corona virus hits is huge. Those of us with resources really need to be as open-handed as we can right now to assist those without.

There has been some helpful conversation around these things on social media which is great to see. One of the biggest concerns is the public transport many people need to take [in many cases two or even more modes of transport to get to work] and so exposure to a greater number of people. First prize is letting them stay at home and paying them because that helps with the social distancing aspect. Some friends of mine spoke about driving in and picking up the person as an alternative where they [because of work commitments] really need someone looking after their children for example. But we really need to be thinking about the bigger picture here in terms of our access to resources once we get hit by the virus vs those living in less resourced spaces. Make good decisions.

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My friend Sara, who is a doctor [and one with tropical medicine and hygiene in her work description] shared some thoughts which are really helpful on this whole thing – you might have seen this already cos it’s gone far and wide but please make sure your people have had a chance to read through it as well:

Corona Virus thoughts to consider – There is no need for fear, bit there is a strong need for kindness and care. A change of attitude from “This won’t affect me or won’t affect me significantly” to “An awareness of how the poor and most vulnerable, including elderly and sick, will be strongly affected.”

My friend, Sara Couves, who is a doctor, shared this with me and it really challenged me to move to a more collective thinking:

Coronavirus. South Africa.

For the sake of others. Pause. Read the reports. Look at the figures. Look at the graphs. Look at hospitals reports. Read the World Health Organisation reports. Read the testimonies of doctors and patients who are in or have been in the middle of it all, please. Consider this objectively and intelligently. For the sake of others.

I keep hearing people say… “I will be fine”, “I will self-isolate (in our homes with access to food, soap and running water)”, “it only affects the elderly or immunocompromised”, “it isn’t that bad”.

Please think about this… what if you are not? What if you are one of the fit, healthy “normal” people who get sick. Very sick. Requiring ICU treatment and hospital bed occupation, requiring the care of nurses and doctors who become exposed because of our illness. Requiring the use of a bed, perhaps at the cost of another patients treatment. What if you consume scarce medical resources that could have been spent on someone who is elderly or immunocompromised. At least 8 medical workers in China have died including one doctor who was 29 and another who was 34, reports of athletes who have been in ICU.

What if we unknowingly become a vector of the virus for someone who has to go to a home that is not a brick house, but a tin shack, in a township, with a source of running water that gets intermittently turned off, someone who does not have a private source of transport to get to a hospital, but needs to get in a crowded bus or taxi to travel, someone who is unable to safely quarantine because they share a small living space with 4 other family members who need to work because they are living hand to mouth.

Our poorer communities have not brought the source of this virus home, and yet they will suffer the most. The 7 million immunocompromised people living with HIV and TB will suffer. Not to mention the devastation it will cause on the healthcare systems, economy, education, care of children. “We” may be ok but our community will not, our city will not, our country will not, not to mention how it will affect the families of those from other countries in Africa, who have come to work here to provide for their families living in other parts of this beautiful continent of Africa.

In just three weeks Italy jumped from a handful of cases to military lockdown. All elective surgery shut. All operating theatres dedicated to COVID-19. Hospitals functioning at 200% capacity. Patients over the age of 65 being turned away. Patients with co-morbidities being turned away. Doctors needing to chose who to treat, and who not. And this in a first world country with a world class health care system.

For the sake of others. And a massive cheer to the many companies that are already doing this!! Act now. Pull back where you can. Withdraw where you can. Close where you can. Reduce exposure where you can. Cancel those flights. Postpone the conference. Conduct the meeting electronically. Work from home. Pay your staff to work from home where possible. Pay your domestic staff to stay at home. Do EVERYTHING that you can. Now is the time to make personal sacrifices for the National good.

For the sake of others. NOW is the time. In three weeks it may be too late.

Please stop saying this is just the flu; you will be fine; it only affects the elderly and the immunocompromised. What if your child was immunocompromised, what if your spouse was at risk, what if we could save your parents’ life by immediate action. Act how you would want others to act on your behalf. For the sake of others.

If this becomes a full blown epidemic, in our precious and fragile country, would the flight/trip/meeting/party have been worth it? Or rather, if we forgo that holiday, cancel that conference, delay that meeting, postpone that party – will we at least know that we did our best to protect and cover and hold…

And if by the mercy of God we pull together as a country and do all of this, and manage to hold back this storm – as is my prayer – we will be the recipients of one of the greatest acts of earthly mercy that we could hope for, at such a time as this.

Imagine South Africa as the success story!! Imagine Africa as the continent of safety!!

For the sake of others.

World Health Organisation Statement – 11 March 2020:

“We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough. All countries can still change the course of this pandemic…

There are now more than 118000 cases in 114 countries (134930 today as I write)… Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals. In the days and weeks ahead we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries climb even higher.

WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction..

We have never before seen a pandemic caused by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.
WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases. And we have called every country for urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”

Dr Sara Couves
MBCHB, MSC TMIH (Tropical Medicine and International Health) DTMH (Tropical Medicine and Hygiene)

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If you missed last night’s president’s speech, Rebecca Davis covers many of the specifics of it in this article here:

Covid-19: A Guide to South Africa’s New ‘State of Disaster’

Also there is a Whatsapp group that is sharing the latest Dept of Health updates which you can add to your phone – 0600123456

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Going back to the ‘Don’t Panic’ piece – we really need to lean into that. Do what we can do and then wait and see and adjust as necessary. Apart from the panic-buying and fights over sanitiser and toilet paper that have been happening in Australia and the US and now here, we can take a moment in the middle of this overwhelming pandemic to focus on some of the positive stories that have emerged. As this piece shared by my friend Nobuntu Webster helps us to do:


Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in Italy people are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that in the West of Ireland
a young woman is spreading fliers with her number through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
The birds are singing,
The sky is clearing,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

Richard Hendrick
March 13th 2020

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If you haven’t seen any video of the Italians producing one of the world’s largest flash mobs by coming out on their balconies and singing/playing the national anthem at 6pm then check this out.

Another encouraging read is this look at lives saved simply by the dropping of pollution in China as a result of the various lockdowns.

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These are just some of the things, but hopefully you find them helpful and encouraging. One of the biggest keys at this time is really to not panic and get caught up in the actions that panic leads to.

Second to that or maybe first to that is to do everything you can to lean into kindness. To put it more directly, ‘Don’t be a dick!’ It’s in these times that we really have to do what we can to connect with people, to look out for each other, to share what we have and to realise that all of us are facing this situation that feels somewhat overwhelming and that we really can choose this to be something that unites us rather than divides.

And lastly, let’s continue to get creative. Like the Italians singing from their balconies and like paying attention to things like pollution decreases, this is a time when social media in particular can be a tool to bring connection where we cannot have physical proximity. Encourage those you know who are fearful, share funny stories, watch series together [Taskmaster and Hot Wings challenge are two on You Tube worth checking out], write some songs or poetry or stories. Do those things around the house that you never find time to do. Pull out the board games…

Let’s be kind and wise and generous and let’s show this virus who is boss. While keeping in mind and prayer all those around the world who are furiously working to find cures and to treat those who are seriously afflicted by this thing.

[For Five Practical ways to spend the time at home creatively, click here]