Coronavirus: Virologist’s Advice On How To Prepare Now If COVID-19 Is Declared A Pandemic

Written by K. Walker on February 27, 2020

It isn’t paranoia to be prepared.

Dr. Ian Mackay, a virologist, wrote a post in his blog, Virology Down Under, that although COVID-19 isn’t widespread in most parts of the world, it’s not a bad idea to make a list and prepare a “Pandemic Stash” box. Dr. Mackay is an adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland, Australia, with a Ph.D. in virology, so he knows what he’s talking about.

First, Dr. Mackay says the post is based on assumptions that COVID-19 will become a pandemic and that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be severe, just that it was spread widely.

This post is based on the assumption that a pandemic will occur at some point and that Wave 1 will impact us, wherever we live, in the coming weeks and months.

We don’t know for certain how severe a COVID-19 pandemic will be. We may be able to assume it’s a mild or perhaps moderate pandemic, not a severe one, according to definitions in the Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza scenarios.[4] But we won’t know for sure until we see spread in countries that ask questions, define cases, and test for SARS-CoV-2 in the same way that we do.

Dr. Mackay says that although there are many things out of our control, there are precautions that we can take to reduce the risk of being infected and being prepared in case of shortages.

Reducing Risk of Infection

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He writes that wearing a mask seems like a good idea, it can be misused and create a false sense of security. They are better suited to be used by sick people to prevent the spread of their illness rather than to prevent infection.

  • Stay at least 2m away from obviously sick people.
    We’re trying to avoid receiving a cough/sneeze in the face, shaking hands, or being in the range of droplet splatter and the “drop zone”
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds & more frequently than you do now
    Soap and water and then dry, or an alcohol-based hand rub, and air dry
  • Try not to touch your face.
    There is a chance your unwashed fingers will have a virus on them and if you touch/rub your mouth, nose or eyes, you may introduce the virus and accidentally infect yourself. Practice this; get others to call you out when you forget. Make it a game.

Stock Up

Dr. Mackay writes “…label up a “Pandemic Stash” box, and begin to slowly fill it with items that won’t go off and that you won’t touch unless needed. Buy a few of the things each weekly shop. Don’t buy things you won’t eat later, don’t hoard and don’t buy more than you’ll need for a 2 week period. We’re not talking zombie apocalypse and we very probably won’t see power or water interruptions either.”

The list includes food, prescriptions, over-the-counter medication, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and items needed to care for the sick. He suggests a supply that would last two weeks.

  • Extra prescription medications, asthma relief inhalers
    Some of these may be a problem, so talk to your doctor soon.
  • Over-the-counter anti-fever and pain medications
    paracetamol and ibuprofen can go a long way to making us feel less sick
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Family pack of toilet paper
  • Vitamins
    In case food shortages limit the variety in your diet
  • Alcohol-containing hand rub and soap
  • Household cleaning agents
    Bleach, floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, surface cleaning spray, laundry detergent
  • Tissues, paper towel
  • Disposable nappies
  • Cereals, grains, beans, lentils, pasta
  • Tinned food – fish, vegetables, fruit
  • Oil, spices and flavours
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Ultra-heat treated or powdered milk
    Ian is not drinking black coffee, no matter what
  • Batteries for anything that needs batteries, powerbanks
  • Think about elderly relative’s needs
    Their medications, pets, pandemic stash, plans for care (see later)
  • Pet food and care
    Dry and tinned food, litter tray liners, medicines, anti-flea drops
  • Soft drink or candy/chocolate for treats

He also has a last-minute list to be added to the above list if supplies slow down due to supply chain issues that can occur in a more severe pandemic.

  • Bread, wraps
  • Meat for freezing
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Vegetables, fruit
  • Fuel for your car

Dr. Mackay also says that it’s a good to check in on elderly relatives who are more susceptible to infection. It might also be a good time to make sure that they have plans in place in case they do become ill.

It will be important to check that your parents and grandparents have prepared a Will and have considered an Enduring Power of Attorney in case they are unable to make care-based decisions for themselves. These aren’t fun to organise or think about, but they’re important whether we see a COVID-19 pandemic or not, so just use this as a reminder to get it done.

He ends by saying that a virus “doesn’t care about our beliefs, our sex or gender, our colour or our clothes – it just wants to make a home in our human cells.”

We do have some experience of a pandemic and it wasn’t panic-worthy. The pandemic of H1N1 “swine flu” in 2009 had some unhappy consequences, but it was by no means a zombie apocalypse.

China has bought us time to prepare. Let’s not waste any more of it. Instead, let’s get our planning hats on and all work the problem together. This is one of those rare times when we’re unarguably all in this together.

Source: Virology Down Under

This is 100% true. There are things that we can do right now which is a much better idea than panicking later.

ClashDaily's Associate Editor since August 2016. Self-described political junkie, anti-Third Wave Feminist, and a nightmare to the 'intersectional' crowd. Mrs. Walker has taken a stand against 'white privilege' education in public schools. She's also an amateur Playwright, former Drama teacher, and staunch defender of the Oxford comma. Follow her humble musings on Twitter: @TheMrsKnowItAll