As I write this article, I am currently self-isolating in my bedroom back home in Barry Island; the notorious home of Gavin and Stacey, less than pristine beaches and hometown of former Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith. My usual journey back home is uneventful to say the least, with the biggest issue I have normally being which Vengaboys track I want to listen to for the next three minutes (note: it’s always Boom Boom Boom Boom). But this journey home was different.

Hundreds of passengers wearing face masks, litres of hand sanitizer being used at every stop of the journey, grown adults asking other passengers to open the train doors with their elbows or feet – I’ll be honest, I chuckled at first and just passed this off as typical hypochondriac behaviour. That day, I joked with my mam (that’s Welsh slang by the way) that she was a massive hypochondriac and that she didn’t need to worry about COVID-19; but now that time has passed, I’ve changed my mind. We need to follow the guidelines; we need to take precaution.

Maybe not to the extent of some people buying out their local supermarket of all the bog roll in existence, or the people preventing NHS workers from going into their local Tesco because they desperately need to buy 30 bags of penne pasta, but it is extremely important to stay safe and listen to the Government guidelines being set for our safety.

According to official sources from the UK Government, 8,077 people have been confirmed positive with COVID-19, with a further 441 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus recently passing away as of Wednesday 25th March.

I started writing this article on Monday, where the situation in the UK was having a significant impact on the British public, with approximately 5,000 positive cases confirmed at that point in time. The Government contacted 1.5 million individuals in the UK who were considered highly vulnerable to COVID-19; but the situation has escalated since then.

Over three thousand additional cases in the space of two days has prompted the Government to place the country on a partial lockdown for three weeks, urging citizens to only leave their homes for essential work, shopping for basic items to get them through the lockdown, and exercise – which has been limited to once a day.

The police forces have also been given the right to reprimand anyone who does not follow these guidelines, and a special Coronavirus bill was passed in the House of Lords to ensure that this is temporarily part of the legislation. Those who are deemed to be not following the rules can be issued with a fine. But despite all of this, not everyone is taking this seriously.

The further regulations were issued on Monday, following reports from multiple news sources that members of the public were still ignoring social distancing guidelines, deeming their weekend activities more important than the safety of the general public. One member of the public went as far as saying she would rather die than sacrifice her weekend.

In the light of this news, I want to give a bit of advice to you all. Follow the guidelines – I myself am a Type 1 Diabetic, one of many individuals who fall under the ‘slightly vulnerable’ category for COVID-19, with the rest of my family having other conditions that are also susceptible to the virus such as asthma. We as a family are self-isolating and making sure that we remain safe at all costs; but it scares us to think that people are still putting others at risk.

You might be bored self-isolating in your student house and ticked off that you can’t go to the gym or see your pals for three weeks, but is it really worth risking illness just to have a group meal? Is it worth potentially turning your house into a virus hotspot just to watch an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race as a collective, especially when you could easily do this virtually on an app like Netflix Party? We live in a technological age where we can still communicate and interact despite being millions of miles apart, so embrace the technology that will help you stay safe while maintaining social interaction.

The guidelines that the Government have placed are there for a reason. Two weeks ago, approximately ten thousand Italians tested positive for COVID-19; in the space of fourteen days, that increased to an official figure of 69,176 positive cases.

This is the calm before the storm, unless we wake up and smell the bacon. We need to self-isolate. We need to ensure that the most vulnerable are catered for, and we need to unite to fight this properly.

To end this little piece, I shall leave you with some food for thought.

Currently, the number one trending word on Urban Dictionary is ‘covidiot’– a person who ignores the warnings regarding public health or safety, and doesn’t respect their peers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Don’t be a covidiot. Instead stay safe, help those who are at risk, boost morale in any shape or form, speak to your loved ones, follow the guidelines, read a book, start a new hobby, bake an apple pie, or do whatever you want – as long as you self-isolate.

I will officially end this piece with a word of advice from a family friend and doctor who has recently covered the COVID-19 wards in London:

“I covered the COVID wards last night. Many of my peers have seen this already, but I cannot quite believe what I saw. Young, previously fit patients being pushed to ventilation within days, and ICU already reaching capacity. Please respect this virus. Help Save Lives. Stay at Home.”

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