I’m a weird person. (But then, if you’ve been following this blog at all, we’ve already established that fact pretty firmly.) Throughout my life, I have had a somewhat lamentable tendency to go off on weird tangents.
And, back around 2006, my tangent was bird flu. I became obsessed with following and discussing the latest information about the H5N1 avian flu virus with other flu preppers (a.k.a. “flubies”), which for a time looked as though it would develop into a global pandemic. (I just checked, and I still remember my username and password from the FluTrackers.com discussion forum!)
Me and my fellow flubies were constantly worrying, analyzing, and obsessing over the latest case data and news reports. So, in an effort to inject some levity into what was a grave and potentially life-threatening situation, I began using my rudimentary Photoshop skills to create funny pictures to share with my fellow flubies.
And so, Cora-Anne Tine, my public-service pandemic advice columnist diva/drag persona was born! (Say “Cora-Anne Tine” five times really, really fast and you will “get” my drag name. 😉 )
My column was called Cora-Anne Tine, Advice to the Flu-Lorn and Your Guide to a Stylish Pandemic. These pictures used to illustrate that tongue-in-cheek “advice” column all date back to between 2005 and 2006 (ahh, the memories!):
Yes, you could say that I had fun with it. But I always made sure to include links to good, credible sources of information about a possible pandemic and how to prepare for it. There was method to my madness.
So, stay tuned! Here is what the situation looks like in China today:
So, it looks like we are going to be facing a rapidly-evolving, global health emergency situation. Expect an explosion of cases, first in China, and then globally. Unfortunately, government-imposed quarantines will not be effective against a virus that appears to have a 14-day incubation period (for example, an estimated tens of thousands of Wuhan citizens left the city before the Chinese government restricted travel). Hospitals will quickly become overwhelmed, as can be seen from this footage shared on Twitter which was linked to from today’s BBC article.
So, what can you do?
Well, based on my past experiences as a bird flu prepper, here is some real advice (all joking aside, you do need to pay attention to this situation as it develops):
- Don’t panic; prepare. NOW is the time to do some common-sense preparation for the potential societal disruption that a pandemic virus can cause. Plan for a period of time when you will be stuck at home and unable to get supplies. Go grocery shopping and stock up on non-perishable food. Get your prescriptions refilled to last you, so you don’t run out of your medications if you can’t get out to the pharmacy. And if you want to buy things like face masks to protect yourself and your family, the time to do it is BEFORE everybody else wants to get their hands on them! (As you can see from my pictures, I already have a stock of face masks and eye goggles!)
- Stay informed. Read widely, but be a discriminating information consumer. Good sources of up-to-date information on the Wuhan coronavirus are the World Health Organization and the Wikipedia page, which is constantly being kept current by an army of volunteer editors. Dedicated discussion forums like FluTrackers.com can often be an invaluable source of information that you might not (yet) find in the mainstream news media, with people posting translations of breaking Chinese news bulletins. There is a new China_Flu subReddit community that is sharing links to resources—but again, be careful! Gossip, rumours, misinformation, and disinformation can spread rapidly via social media.
As I come across other good sources of information about the Wuhan virus, I will share them here. Stay healthy!