Monthly Archives: March 2020

Coronavirus

Coronavirus – the crucial role of social responsibility

As coronavirus continues to spread circumstances have become somewhat surreal and will be causing great anxiety.

Not everyone will get the disease and the majority that are affected will have a relatively mild illness. Nonetheless, the consequences for a minority will be profound and no-one knows for sure on which side of the divide they will fall (whether they be young or old). However, those of us who are older and/or have “underlying medical conditions” perhaps have most reason to be anxious.

So what can be done to lessen the impact? There has been plenty of advice regarding personal hygiene and hand-washing. Social-distancing is the new fashion. Self-isolation is a phrase that we once associated with hermits but is now commonplace. Guidelines change quickly as matters progress and won’t be reproduced here (our article on “Coronavirus Information” provides useful links). However, I would like to mention two of the most important weapons we have in the battle against the virus and these are community-based.

The virus will thrive if it is given the opportunity to spread but the chances of containment improve if we cut off its routes of transmission, in other words we reduce its opportunities to spread from person to person. This aids in protecting the more vulnerable in our society but also helps spread the burden on the NHS, from which we all benefit. The human, social, and economic costs are enormous as schools, shops, pubs, restaurants, and many other facilities we take for granted all shut down.

There are also huge personal costs to be met. Vulnerable people are being asked to self-isolate for months, cutting themselves off from family and loved ones. Yes, this can be for their own good but they are also doing their bit for the rest of us. If they get the disease they will be a particular burden on the NHS, by avoiding exposure they help conserve this limited resource. Self-isolation is also important if you become symptomatic with a new persistent cough, temperature, or breathlessness. For most the disease will be mercifully mild but this gives rise to an inherent danger. There may be a temptation to go back to work, do the shopping, meet with friends etc whilst still contagious. This keeps a door of opportunity open to the virus which it will use to transmit itself. The next people in the chain of infection may be more vulnerable, possibly even the doctors and nurses in the frontline. It is well known from previous pandemics that they are not only the most important of resources but also the most fragile due to their intense and extended exposure. I know that frontline medical and nursing staff were horrified to see thousands of people descending on seaside resorts and so on over the last weekend, thereby providing huge incubators for the virus. They fear becoming cannon fodder in the forthcoming battle, but to see so many members of the public prepared to light the fuse must have been terrifying. So, the first and most important weapon to which I refer is social responsibility. In fact, it is a duty with which we must all comply if we are to avoid a possible death rate measured in hundreds of thousands. Please, please, please observe rules on social distancing and self isolation. Nothing could be more important at this time.

This brings me to the second weapon we must use – good neighbourliness. We particularly need to look after those that are self-isolating for a prolonged period and are vulnerable; this is the true measure of us as a society. They are being socially responsible in what they are doing and it comes at a cost, particularly in terms of mental health. They need to have all the support we can give. This may mean chatting over the phone or ensuring that shopping is done for them.

There is a scheme that is better than anything we as a parish council can organise and it can be got off the ground with immediate effect. The best way anyone can help is to keep in touch with each other’s immediate neighbours. This is particularly the case if they are elderly, have pre-existing medical conditions, and are self-isolating. You will know them and, more importantly, they will know you. This immediately creates trust and ensures that they are not relying on people they may never have seen before (no matter how well-intentioned those people may be). This is far better than any scheme we can devise and has a built-in method of safeguarding the vulnerable from the unscrupulous. We need an army of good neighbours and this means you. Don’t wait to be organised by the council or anyone else, it’s not necessary in order for you to look after your immediate neighbour.

We will get through this – we have no choice. We may even emerge as a better society. However, we need to get as many of us as possible through this crisis. We all have to deploy the weapons of social responsibility and good neighbourliness to push this menace back.

 

 

 

 

 

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Coronavirus Information – reliable sources and the CRAP test.

Links to reliable sources of information are provided at the end of this article.

It is important during the coronavirus pandemic that we keep ourselves well-informed. Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation circulating, particularly online and in social media. Some of this will have been posted with malicious intent but for the most part it will be the result of genuine misunderstanding or wanting to be first with the latest rumour. It is also important to remember that even genuine information will quickly change as the situation rapidly evolves.

Information must therefore be approached with common sense, certainly apply the adage “if it sounds too good to be true it usually is”. Also consider the CRAP test in evaluating information (Currency, Reliability, Authority, Purpose). The test was developed for academics and students to assess online information but can be adapted to this situation.

Currency:

How current is the information? When was it posted? Has it been recently updated? Even genuine information from the most reliable sources can quickly become dated in rapidly evolving circumstances. For example, the modelling exercises on which government decisions are based involve uncertainties and assumptions. The advice changes as more becomes known.

Reliability:

Is the information based on someone’s personal opinion? If it is opinion is it balanced or one-sided? Does the author offer hard evidence which can be independently confirmed? Does the author stand to profit or gain in any way (not just financially)?

Authority:

Who is the author? What are his/her credentials? What do you know about the author? Is the author reputable? Is the site sponsored (including advertisers), if so by whom? We British have a healthy scepticism of people in authority and during the Brexit debate experts were often vilified. However, now is the time to take notice. These are likely to be the most reliable sources of information, your hairdresser probably isn’t. Information that comes directly from central government (.gov.uk), local government (.gov.uk), NHS (.nhs.uk), and police (.police.uk), is likely to be the most reliable. There is some good advice from charities/non-profit organisations but they should be mainstream organisations with names you recognise. Some links are included below.

Purpose/Point of View:

Is the author trying to push an agenda or particular side? Are the arguments obviously biased? Is it an attempt to sell you something? Are you being asked for money or bank details?

Finally, before passing on information it is important to take a step back. Consider the reason for having been sent something and the possible consequences of passing it on. Before passing on any online rumour, take the time to verify it. This can be done by checking how recently an account has been created, keeping a close eye on information from your local authorities, and searching key words to find another source.

Sources of information (click on the links below):

Government guidance on social distancing and protecting the vulnerable.

Coronavirus advice from the NHS.

Check if you have coronavirus symptoms.

Coronavirus – Lancashire County Council response.

Coronavirus – West Lancashire Borough Council response.

Number of coronavirus cases and risk in the UK.

Coronavirus and heart or circulatory disease.

Coronavirus and lung disease.

Coronavirus and diabetes.

Coronavirus and the elderly.

Lancashire Constabulary – Coronavirus – Stay in the Know.

 

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Coronavirus – important information from Scarisbrick Parish Council

IF YOU LIVE IN THE PARISH OF SCARISBRICK, ARE SELF-ISOLATING, AND FIND YOURSELF IN SERIOUS AND IMMEDIATE NEED THEN PLEASE READ THIS ARTICLE AND FILL IN THE FORM BELOW. 

Scarisbrick Parish Council is actively looking at ways that the vulnerable in the parish can be supported and will make funding available as appropriate. Something that is causing a significant problem at the moment is the growing number of coronavirus scams that are appearing – we want to be as sure as possible that we don’t unwittingly expose elderly residents to harm. We are working on it.

The best way anyone can help at the moment is to keep in touch with each other’s immediate neighbours. This is particularly the case if they are elderly, have pre-existing medical conditions, and are self-isolating. You will know them and, more importantly, they will know you. This immediately creates trust and ensures that they are not relying on people they may never have seen before (no matter how well-intentioned they may be). This is far better than any scheme we can devise and it can get off the ground with immediate effect.

We advise all residents not to hand over money to anyone they do not recognise (and trust) on the promise of having shopping done for them. This is, unfortunately, a scam that is gaining pace. Unscrupulous individuals are doing this whilst pretending to represent Parish Councils.

If you live within the parish, are self-isolating, and find yourself in serious and immediate need then please get in touch with the council and we will do what we can to resolve the problem. At the moment we will only be able to help with serious and immediate problems such as having run out of food or medication. Contact us by completing the form below. Give us your telephone number and a password (memorable word) of your choice. We will call you back and return the password so you know it is us. Our telephone number (mobile) is 07577240928, please only use this if absolutely necessary – we are a small parish council with limited resources.

We are not qualified to give medical advice. If you need this advice – and it’s not an emergency – you should dial the 111 telephone number.

We are starting to ramp up a flow of information on our website and Twitter accounts (@scarisbrick2day) but please bear with us – our resources are relatively small.

 

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