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It has been reported by Johns Hopkins Medical Center that more than 100,000 people have died worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Thus it follows that in the post-Coronavirus economy some things might need to change, as it’s doubtful that things will return to what we once considered ‘normal’ — but if we do return to that normal we might set ourselves up for another Coronavirus event that will play havoc with the economy and needlessly harm millions of people.
ONE: Let’s Be Prepared Next Time
It seems obvious that there will be another SARS or MERS health crisis. In fact, the Novel Coronavirus is itself a SARS-type virus named SARS-CoV-2 which journalists have (thankfully) named COVID-19, and it is simply the latest version of a long line of SARS or MERS type viruses that mutate at irregular intervals.
Let’s hope we never face the prospect of two highly infectious viruses at the same time, say, one mutated SARS virus (COVID-20, or COVID-21) and another mutated virus of the MERS family, because healthcare systems would reach full capacity within 7-days and millions of people worldwide would die before ever seeing the inside of a Hospital.
With that prospect in mind, let’s ensure that our politicians work on preparations for the next killer pandemic to the point that we could be in a strong enough position to take on, not one, but two killer pathogens at the same time, because given enough time, that will occur. Eventually.
But for now, let’s just be ready for the next SARS or MERS virus and we can do that by consolidating our best knowledge and practices into official government policy by passing an Emergency Infectious Disease Protocol bill in the House of Commons, soon.
How to Do That?
- The UK government should mail a package of 5-individually-wrapped surgical masks to every UK household to hang in the pantry/utility room/in the RV, or wherever appropriate.
I fully realize that surgical masks provide little protection, but in the case of unwitting carriers of an infectious respiratory virus, etc., they help to protect others from being contaminated by that person’s breath. But even more importantly is that ‘perception’ is everything. When people see other people out and about and wearing surgical masks, it will automatically cause people to remember to maintain proper social distancing!
- The UK government mailout that I propose, should include an 8″x10″ plastic laminated card with a pre-punched hole so that every household can use a thumbtack to hang the infectious disease info card (and the package of masks) from a thumbtack or nail in their pantry or utility room. This card should show each type of respiratory protection (surgical, N95, and medical respirator) and the reasons for wearing each type of mask, and when to switch from one type of mask to another:
A pictogram, followed by an explanation such as; “Surgical Mask; Wear this kind of mask if you’re walking in the park or uncrowded shopping mall.” and “N95 Surgical Mask: Wear this kind of mask if you work in a crowded environment where you can’t maintain proper social distancing OR if you’re a healthcare worker OR if you work in a Senior Citizens long-term care facility.” and “Medical Respirator: Wear this kind of protection if you’re a surgeon, or other operating theatre staff, OR if you work as a pathogen researcher.”
- The “8×10” card should show pictograms of each type of mask and the legitimate reasons for wearing each type of mask — and should CLEARLY summarize typical respiratory symptoms and what to do about them, such as: “If you experience any combination of fever, malaise, dry cough or uncontrollable coughing, or weakness/tiredness (or whatever symptoms you feel are appropriate for such an info card) call this toll-free number for instructions and ensure your front door is unlocked in case you can’t make it to the door.” Or words to that effect.
- A list of websites where people can re-order any of those respiratory protections online (along with the part number or model number) and have them delivered to their home, to ensure they can maintain (a minimum of 5 masks, for example) in their home, which would be helpful for most people. If the government provides such a headstart for people now and in the future, I believe that for the duration of this COVID-19 crisis and any mutated (say, COVID-20 or COVID-21, or MERS mutation) virus which may be more infectious, or more deadly (or both) UK citizens and residents will be better prepared, better educated, and better able to survive this event and the (almost certainly more dangerous) next mutation.
TWO: ‘Social Distancing’ is Now a Thing
Many people were/are completely asymptomatic — meaning, they had no symptoms at all, or may have felt a bit ‘off’ for a few days — in regards to the COVID-19 virus, however, those people may unwittingly carry on with their normal schedule and interact with dozens of people daily, thereby passing the virus on to everyone they come into close contact with.
If you have “B” type blood, you already know that you don’t catch as many colds or flu as your friends and co-workers. Which is handy for you, but you could pass infectious respiratory disease to everyone you interact with. Please use caution. Your ‘off day’ could become someone else’s major healthcare crisis simply because they don’t have the same built-in defences you have. Thank your parents and be considerate to others. Please.
While in public, we’ll be urged to maintain social distancing, which is difficult to get used to until you do get used to it, and then you’ll never go back to the old informal distancing rules.
Every year, I expect that a call will go out via the media telling people there’s a novel coronavirus or MERS-type virus making the rounds and to take appropriate precautions. And we all know that the best way to avoid such a virus is to lock yourself in your house until the crisis is over — which isn’t a lot of fun. But the second-best way to avoid contracting such an infection is to maintain proper social distancing, which isn’t that difficult. In addition to social distancing, wearing a surgical mask or an N95 mask will help, and even better, if you have the virus, you won’t be passing it along to everyone you come into close contact with. Unless you take it off, of course.
The UK government should create legislation that requires transportation operators to reconfigure their seating arrangements to allow for proper social distancing. In trains and buses, this could take the form of perimeter seating around the entire train car or bus, while in airlines, seating that faces each other might be the way to go. “Look ma, I’m flying backwards!” Seriously though, perimeter seating in airlines, with opposing seats in the centre of the aircraft would maximize passenger safety and still allow a large number of passengers and permit two aisles. On ferries, similar seating arrangements could be made and onboard restaurants and cafeterias should be able to reconfigure their seating area to opposing (and easy clean fabric) seating to maintain social distancing rules. Remember, when you’re eating your prime rib or vegan tortellini you can’t wear a mask, so the seating plan in those areas must consider passenger safety more seriously.
Some sidewalks in the UK are barely wide enough for one person let alone the busyness of the tourist season, therefore, cities and towns across the UK need a complete rethink of their pedestrian areas. In many cities around the world we’re seeing typical four-lane city streets turned into two-lane cobblestone streets that are only open to buses or trams. Allowing taxicabs and limos seems appropriate too, but not passenger cars or motorcycles. By converting a four-lane road into a two-lane road, it allows wider sidewalks for people to maintain the recommended social distancing rules. This can look very attractive and many cities have succeeded in this in recent years.
Working from home four days per week could become the new normal for many office workers and others who can work from home. Imagine a worker assembling 250 car mirrors per day (or 250 car tail lights per day) at a factory; Now, imagine that worker doing the same in their (formerly) two-car garage. It’s the same thing except for the location. The worker gets paid a standard price for each piece they assemble instead of payment by the hour, yet all other employee benefits for that worker would remain the same. FedEx or the automobile manufacturer’s own delivery vans could pick up and deliver the parts from the home worker. Final assembly, of course, would be done at a large factory designed exclusively for ‘just-in-time-delivery’ of the necessary parts.
Shopping online is one way to limit exposure to potentially infected persons, it also frees-up the roadways for transport trucks and delivery vans and ends the daily gridlock that spews billions of tons of pollutants into the air which, as we now find out, breathing those toxins for a few hours every day further weakens our immune system response to infectious disease. Seems obvious in retrospect, doesn’t it?
THREE: Government Policy Must Allow the NHS to ‘Hit the Ground Running’
Boris Johnson’s government has handled this healthcare crisis about as well as any government on the planet.
However, when the next SARS or MERS-type virus hits, the NHS should be fully stocked with every PPE they need, they should have standing arrangements with every available airport hangar or unoccupied office tower or movie theatre, etc., they should have millions of test kits which should be used on each person who enters a Hospital (with or without symptoms) and test kits should be used to test every passenger arriving in the country — before they debark the aircraft, ferry, cruise ship or pleasure craft — and they could be notified via SMS if their test proved positive, allowing them to self-isolate or see a Doctor, as appropriate. This would give the infected person a jump start on their treatment and provide the NHS with almost realtime tracking of infected persons arriving in the UK.
Finally, the NHS needs an entire fleet of state-of-the-art Hospitals that are built to suit the modern NHS. Yesterday’s hospitals, built in the 18th, 19th and 20th-centuries, just aren’t up to scratch. Some of them cost more than £1 million per month to heat let alone pay the lighting bill. Many aren’t fit for purpose, or are located in the worst possible place now that entire cities have sprung up around them over the past 10 or 20 decades. Some NHS facilities are simply too small to serve regular needs let alone having enough capacity to handle a major epidemic. Ten new Hospitals need to be built every year until the NHS reaches 130% capacity so that it can then offer so-called medical tourism and thereby earn valuable foreign cash from its foreign patients. Each new Hospital should be much smaller than the 1950’s era monster-sized facilities. Modern Hospitals need a smaller footprint, they need to be easily accessible, and the UK needs many more locations — more + smaller + energy efficient Hospitals, instead of few + large + energy inefficient + barely fit for purpose Hospitals.
MORE, SMALLER, ENERGY EFFICIENT HOSPITALS are the future.
Captain Tom Moore Raises Millions for the NHS
And to end on a positive note, let’s give a warm shoutout to the UK’s 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore who has raised over £18 million since April 10th for NHS Charities Together, by walking laps in his back yard. Thank you again, Captain Moore. He is 2020’s best example of the spirit of the United Kingdom. Hats off!
99-year-old veteran raises $15 million to help U.K. health service fight coronavirus.
Capt. Tom Moore set himself the target of walking 100 laps of his garden in England before his 100th birthday on April 30. pic.twitter.com/BJXYPj5DHu
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 16, 2020
Things will never return to what has been thought of as ‘normal’ business in the United Kingdom following the biggest threat to Britons since WWII, yet there’s two paths forward where the country can either ‘survive’ or ‘thrive’ after Coronavirus. And that’s the focus of this blog post.
Here’s a short list of things that could be done in order to a) Prepare the UK for the next pandemic, b) Protect Britons from retransmission of a future SARS or MERS virus or other contagious pathogen, c) Build Resiliency into UK infrastructure, and d) Stimulate the UK economy to allow the country and its people to thrive, going forward.
Prepare, Protect, Build Resiliency, Stimulate
For me, ‘surviving’ isn’t enough. What the UK needs to do after any kind of negative event is to ‘thrive’.
When you’re 68-million people on a small island in the Atlantic Ocean that’s recently cut the cord with the EU, and still hasn’t reintegrated with the global economy, nor even the (eternally patient) Commonwealth of Nations, you’ve got to come out of a healthcare + economic crisis with a solid plan and impressive momentum behind that plan.
Let’s talk about what can and should be done as the UK comes out of the Coronavirus emergency.
Four Ways to Repair the UK Economy & Inoculate it from the Next Pandemic, While Supercharging the Economy Now
- Coat all publicly handled surfaces with copper. As you may know, copper kills germs, viruses, and bacteria upon contact in only a few seconds, therefore, such commonly handled surfaces like turnstiles, handrails, push-to-open door plates, door handles and door knobs, and the taps in public washrooms, and the buttons on the ATM or any vending machine should be coated with copper. Copper acts so powerfully against germs that even 25% copper content is enough to do the job. Plenty of coins in the world have a high copper content, yet their appearance is like that of pewter or brass, so if you don’t like the colour of copper, turnstiles and more, can appear to look like pewter, aluminium, or brass. Killing germs on frequently handled surfaces is a great way to stop retransmission of a pathogen to everyone who passes through that turnstile. How to get it done? The UK government should guarantee zero-interest loans to rail companies, airlines, ATM and vending machine operators, and to cities and towns to incentivize them to coat (electroplate, anodize, or otherwise layer) such surfaces with copper or copper amalgams with a copper content of 25% or more.
- Designate who works in ‘Essential Services’ and allow them to continue their duties unaffected by future ‘stay at home orders’. We can’t live without Doctors and Nurses, nor can we live without food and drink, nor without heat and light. And, it’s always nice to have police, fire and ambulance services available on speed dial. Similar is true of the military. Where would we be without them? So, thanks again to those people every day — all the way back to the Great Fire of London in 1666. How to get it done? The UK government should require each department to create a list of jobs in their department deemed ‘essential services’. Also, the UK government should consult with UK industry for a list of job titles considered ‘essential services’ and determine the total number of people required to staff those essential service positions — for the purpose of creating a massive database of people deemed ‘essential’ during any crisis. Maybe those people should be issued a passcard and a matching sticker for their car windscreen allowing them to automatically pass through any police checkstop, park their car for free (Doctors and Nurses shouldn’t be getting their car impounded when they’re busy saving lives, for example) and essential workers should be paid (by the government) an extra £500 per each full or partial month of any crisis (even if it’s a local ‘State of Emergency’ situation where local officials have duly informed the UK government about the emergency) to cover exceptional costs such as the worker having to stay in a hotel after working a 16-hour emergency shift rather than them driving home overtired, and then doing it all over again the next day.
- Consolidate all UK Department of Work and Pensions unemployment insurance, welfare/Universal Credit, and government pensions systems into one payments system operated by HM Revenue and Customs. At present in the UK (and most Western countries) there are many government departments offering similar or the same services, which represents a HUGE overhead cost and leads to massive inefficiency in government. All payments should be paid via the ‘reverse income tax’ method to vastly improve and streamline UK services to persons. How to get it done? HM Revenue and Customs should ‘top-up’ the income of every adult Briton who is living under the national poverty line to £1200 per month. Which is cheaper than continuing to operate a multiplicity of government departments dedicated to solving the financial, housing, and legal ills of everyone in the country — especially when you factor-in poverty-based crime and related policing, court, and incarceration costs. It would result in a lowering of taxes by tapering the astonishingly high overhead costs for several government departments — and a tax increase WOULD NOT be required. For example: If a person earns more that £1200 per month, they get nothing from this HM Revenue and Customs programme. If they earn an average of £1000 per month (as reported on their previous year income tax form) they would automatically have £200 added to their bank account via direct deposit each month. Millions of entry level workers, senior citizens, some unemployed persons, and others who earn less than £1200 per month would be automatically topped-up to that amount, but only if they’ve filed their income tax return for the previous year, and only if they’re over the age of majority. It can’t be emphasized enough: The overhead savings alone for the government would more than pay for this improvement and small businesses would benefit from reduced property crime + high insurance rates, and the threat of personal theft (getting ‘mugged’) would practically disappear. Remember, homeless people are only homeless because they don’t have funds to pay rent, therefore, they turn to crime, drugs and other unpleasant means to stay alive. And the gross total cost to the UK annually is in the billions. Take away the reason for the problem and suddenly, there’s no problem. So easy. And prevention is always cheaper than solving a deeply-entrenched problem!
- A number of major national infrastructure programmes should be made ‘shovel ready’ as soon as this crisis ends, as nothing says ‘Crisis Over!’ like plenty of jobs ready for people at the end of any emergency. It’s the news that people need to hear during a crisis as it will keep hope alive and keep them working towards a solution instead of them sinking into the abyss of worry, doubt, and substance abuse, or even worse. ‘Here’s a shovel. Now go plant a billion trees!’ is one way to help the bottom-two economic quintiles get back to a normal life. Anyone, even workers who live (whether above or below) the national poverty line might want to spend a few hours doing that at the weekends to make-up the income they’ve lost during the COVID-19 crisis. ‘Let’s reclaim a hundred square miles from the sea and build luxurious golf resorts there!’ might be another way to create millions of badly needed jobs at the end of any emergency including the present coronavirus crisis. Adding fill to the shallower areas of the UK coastline can build sea level rise resiliency and help to prevent the normal process of erosion of land by the sea while creating spectacular tourism areas (jobs, jobs, jobs!) for those who love ocean views. Seen The Palm Dubai, anyone? Dubai was a sleepy fishing village not so long ago. ‘Here’s a hammer. Now go install 10-solar panels on every roof in the UK’ and the UK government should provide zero-interest loan guarantees for any home or business owner willing to have such an array installed on their roof that contributes surplus energy to the national grid. ‘Here’s a tractor. Now go make the UK 100% self-sufficient in food within 10-years!’ and again, the UK government shouldn’t grant such money, it should provide zero-interest loan guarantees to those able to move the UK closer to that goal. Obviously, farmers in the UK won’t be growing coconuts or bananas, but any non-tropical fruit and veg should be doable in southern England. If UK policy is right and the financing is kept at zero-interest, UK farmers and ranchers should be able to accomplish the task with ease and have enough capacity to export significant quantities of UK produce. And the last suggestion is to ‘Get Britain Working Again!’ (but From Home) after the COVID-19 crisis ends by increasing internet and telephone bandwidth and by improving PC programmes that help people to work from home as efficiently as they do at their regular office, thereby allowing fully half of all Britons to work from their brand new home office. Which, of course, (you knew I was going to say it, didn’t you?) should be financed via zero-interest loan guarantees courtesy of the UK government.
You’ll Notice my Suggestions Don’t Cost Anything (net) and They’ll Save the UK Billions while Supercharging the UK Economy and Solving Many Social Ills
You’ve got to like that, whether you voted Conservative or Labour!
It’s a little-known fact that the element copper kills viruses and bacteria upon contact, in less than a minute; It’s less-known that the typical Western diet is lacking in this crucial micronutrient.
Therefore, in the context of the Novel Coronavirus known as (COVID-19) shouldn’t we be manufacturing our subway handholds, turnstiles, railings, door handles and other commonly touched surfaces from this interesting and useful metal? Not to mention that we should eat the recommended daily allowance of this vital nutrient in case it helps to protect us in a general way from killer viruses and bacteria.
I’m not saying that copper is some kind of panacea and that we’ll never catch another cold or virus as long as we live, but you should read what an expert on the topic says here.
However, those studies didn’t include copper cooking utensils, copper thread woven into fabric or copper toilet handles or any other way of using copper to kill germs of all kinds — it only focused on 10% of the most commonly touched surfaces in hospitals.
Imagine a hospital where all handrails, doorknobs, the siderails on hospital beds and countertops/washbasins were made from copper, or even brass, which has a significant amount of copper in it.
Getting Proactive About Making Life Difficult for Viruses and Bacteria in Public Areas
What if we coated everything from countertops, to car door handles, to handrails and more in copper, and it decreased the infection rate by pathogens by ‘only’ 50 per cent? (Including COVID-19)
Think what that would do to lower NHS costs, not to mention saving thousands of lives and reducing trauma for people, businesses, and governments. Seen what Coronavirus is doing to people’s lives, small business, and to society these days?
We’re told that it’s going to get worse before it gets better, although China, after expending Herculean effort seems to have COVID-19 under control. Let’s hope that Western healthcare systems fare the same or better as more information about how to fight this Coronavirus variant comes to light.
At least Prime Minister Boris Johnson is taking it seriously, as are the leaders of the devolved territories of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
In America, President Trump finally got on the bandwagon and is doing more than any Western leader to slow the spread of COVID-19 in his country although some have termed the steps the United States is taking as ‘draconian’ — yet, they’re the same sort of people who would sue the U.S. government for any subsequent illness had he not ordered strong measures to protect Americans. And in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken far-reaching steps to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
After missing the boat initially, Western politicians have now ramped-up to meet the threat posed by this novel coronavirus.
Of course, it’s too late to install copper coatings on every subway car railing or handhold, turnstile, or ATM, and on every park bench armrest and every public building doorknob.
Or is it? Maybe now, during the present Coronavirus event maintenance workers could be doing the work in a timely fashion!
A great thing about copper is that any metal fixture can be electroplated with copper, or it can be hydrostatically applied (electo-painted) to surfaces by spraying a special copper emulsion onto the surface where it magnetically attaches and cures. Both electroplating and hydrostatic coating methods result in a very strong and permanent bond to the substrate metal. However, these methods result in a copper coating only a few microns thick which means heavily-used surfaces (like subway handrails) might need to be recoated every year or two. Still, both electroplating and hydrostatic coatings are a realistic way to cover metal surfaces with a metal that kills every kind of pathogen almost instantly — whether virus or bacteria.
Similar could be done using either brass (which contains plenty of copper) or silver (which also kills germs of any kind but is more expensive than brass or copper) and gold (which is even better at killing viruses and bacteria, although costly) and none of these metals tarnish as copper does. Therefore, the choice of metal (copper, brass, silver, gold) would depend upon the application. Even automotive steering wheel buttons could be made from copper, brass, silver, or for Rolls Royce owners, gold; Remember, each time you touch one of the buttons, you’re killing the germs on your fingertips.
While this suggestion won’t help much in the present COVID-19 crisis, it could reduce infections in the future that are transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces, especially on public transit, in public areas (think: stairwell railings, park benches, ATM machines, etc.) and in hospitals, senior citizen homes and other areas of high usage.
‘An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure’
One day, governments, healthcare systems, and citizens will finally realize that the old phrase, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is among the most-valuable wisdom ever passed down from your ancestors. So take that advice and run with it for your own good and the good of future generations, by incorporating copper, brass, silver, or gold on commonly touched surfaces, and inside of the now ubiquitous water bottles. Interestingly, if you fill your pure copper water bottle with clean water and leave it overnight in the fridge, you’ll benefit because some tiny amount of the copper will dissolve into the water and you’ll thereby gain a small amount of copper in your diet over a few weeks.
(Caution: Don’t fill your copper water bottle with citrus juice and leave it overnight in the fridge, as you can ingest too much copper because the acid in the citrus will dissolve a small amount of the copper and it will leach into the liquid. Remember, it’s a micronutrient. We don’t get enough of it, but high-ish doses from any source including leachate from copper water bottles full of acidic drinks will make you feel dizzy and tired if you use your copper water bottle improperly over a period of weeks)
And for 24/7 germ-killing action on coins; Why not ensure that all future coins are manufactured with high copper or silver content — high enough to kill germs in seconds? Seems a simple way to prevent the spread of one of the most handled surfaces of all.