Real Talk. News, views, and opinions about the big stories of the day.
Wherever you are in the world, there’s a lot going on – there’s a lot to keep up with.
Let’s take a look at some of the big stories from an LGBTQ perspective.
As Covid-19 continues to work its way around the world, the main thing to remember is to stay calm and focus on the facts.
How did we get here?
The first case of Covid-19 was reported on 31 December. According to John Hopkins University, over 1.5 million people have now been diagnosed as having acquired the virus, and at least 88,400 have died.
What is Covid-19?
Coronavirus is a family of viral strains. Previously, there were six identified viral strains within the Coronavirus family that were known to infect humans – SARS is one of those. This new strain – Covid-19 – increases that number to seven.
The virus initially made the jump from animals to humans, and is now able to spread via human-to-human contact.
This type of virus causes respiratory issues for people, leaving patients with viral pneumonia.
What are the symptoms of Covid-19?
It may take up to 14 after exposure to the virus before you develop any symptoms.
The most common symptoms are fever, tiredness, and a dry cough. In severe cases, you may experience difficulty breathing.
How dangerous is Covid-19?
This is unlike anything that we’ve encountered within living memory, however it’s important to remember that Covid-19 isn’t the most deadly virus that has hit the human population.
The Spanish Flu of 1918 infected 500 million people around the world and killed at least 17 million people.
Most people that acquire Covid-19 only experience mild symptoms and will recover without needing any treatment.
Given that there’s different levels of testing being undertaken, it’s highly likely that the documented figure of Covid-19 diagnoses is significantly under-reported, so it’s difficult to calculate a precise death rate. The World Health Organisation is currently estimating that the death rate from Covid-19 is somewhere between 2%-5% of total infections. The highest risks are for the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions. However, the virus seems to effect different people in different ways. Even if you are young and healthy it can make you very sick.
That makes Covid-19 more deadly than the seasonal influenza that we encounter each year – which has a much lower death rate. However, seasonal influenza seems to be more infections. The World Health Organisation reports that seasonal influenza outbreaks kill 290,000-650,000 people each year.
Covid-19 is not as deadly as other strains of the coronavirus that we’ve previously encountered – such as SARS.
It’s a huge public health emergency, but it’s probably not the end-of-days. Let’s try and stay calm and follow the health expert’s guidance on how to minimise the risk of transmission.
Can Covid-19 be stopped?
Covid-19 has a reproduction number above 1, so it is self-sustaining. That means that infections will keep happening until we can find a way to stop it. It appears as if each person infected is passing the virus on to 2-3 other people. It spreads when infected people cough droplets containing the virus into the air, infecting those nearby.
Vaccines are being developed, but there is not currently any vaccine available.
Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission is the main focus – that means stopping the movement of people who may have been exposed to the virus, and quarantining them where possible.
Social distancing is the other main tactic. By stopping contact between people, you reduce opportunities for the virus to spread throughout a community – slowing infection rates and reducing the impact on health services.
Why are we seeing so much disruption?
This is a serious public health issue – it has already caused the premature death of large numbers of people and it’s unclear what the total impact will be. Talking about statistics and mortality rates may seem easy in the abstract, but the reality is incredibly traumatic when you lose loved ones, members of your community, or become sick yourself.
The global scale of infections makes this outbreak unprecedented in living memory. The World Health Organisation is describing Covid-19 as a pandemic.
Governments are trying to minimise and delay the spread of the virus by restricting movement and encouraging social distance. This means closing borders, cancelling events, closing schools, and remote working.
A best-case scenario is the rate of infections will eventually plateau and start to decline. This seems to be what’s happened in China (where the virus first appeared) and also South Korea (which encountered the virus earlier than other parts of the world). Countries such as Italy and Spain are potentially at the peak of the impact of the virus, whereas countries such as the UK and the US probably still have the worst ahead of them. What has not yet been quantified is the scale and the severity of global economic disruption that is being caused by the virus.
Stock-markets have tumbled and businesses of every size and sector are already finding it very difficult to keep going. Jobs are being lost and the world will have to navigate a prolonged economic recession. That was a fairly bleak experience after the Global Financial Crisis of 2007, but what we’re facing into is going to be significantly worse than that.
Our community knows what it’s like to be devastated by a pandemic, and we know a fair bit about the panic and misinformation that goes along with that. Stay calm. Stay informed. When it comes to Covid-19, we need to be the adults in the room.
There’s difficult days ahead for us all, but we need to stay calm, support each other, and look out for those people who are particularly vulnerable to this virus and those who need economic support.
Adapting our day-to-day lives is proving to be a bit of a challenge, but there’s lots of things that we can still do while social distancing from the rest of the world.
We’ve created a #TakeItOnline section to share stuff that might be entertaining or a bit useful in navigating isolation and the need for intimacy.
Is everything cancelled?
Is everything cancelled? Pretty much.
What we don’t know is how long this period of lock-down and social distancing is going to last for, and we don’t know how long the disruption will continue for.
It’s likely that anything that had been planned to take place within the next few months is going to be cancelled or rescheduled.
We’re using the tracker from Wilde Trip to stay on top of what’s going, and planning some potential activities once we start to move into life beyond lock-down. We’re also seeing new events emerge that you can join online even while you’re stuck at home.
If you’re looking for something to watch, check out Seeing Is Believing – a collection of queer short films.