Personal Cost Of COVID-19

There have been many MANY articles written about the COVID-19 pandemic. Many more will be written before we get to the end, no doubt. Some people choose to focus on the science behind it, others talk about the effect it has on their own lives.

Here are two really good articles about the personal cost of dealing with COVID-19.

The first article is by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh entitled ‘COVID-19 And The Doctor’s Dilemma‘:

Doctors are usually both fatalistic and anxious about their family’s health. We know that bad things happen — we witness this at work every day — but also that bad things are, on the whole, unusual. Until you reach old age, that is. When members of our family fall ill, we have to wrestle with professional realism and anxiety driven by too much knowledge. I have little choice other than to think of the worst that might happen, work through my feelings about it, and then try to put it to one side. I suppose you could call this “catastrophising” but, I’m afraid to say, Covid-19 is a catastrophe, even though almost all of us, strange to say, will survive it.

Beautifully written, as is the second article, entitled ‘What I Learned When My Husband Got Sick With Coronavirus‘, by Jessica Lustig, deputy editor of The New York Times Magazine. One of the most poignant paragraphs contains this moving detail about a sweater:

I am texting the doctor. I am texting T’s five siblings on a group chat, texting my parents and my brother, texting T’s business partner and employees and his dearest friends and mine, in loops and loops, with hearts and thankful prayer-hands emoji. He is too exhausted, too weak, to answer all the missives winging to him at all hours. “Don’t sugarcoat it for my family,” he tells me. He has asked for the gray sweater that was his father’s, that his father wore when he was alive. He will not take it off.

Stay safe everyone.

What Really Matters

These are extraordinarily challenging times for all of us.

Like many of you, I have been following the news constantly either on traditional news websites, via RSS feeds, or through social media. A lot of it is grim, and it’s easy to slip into depression when one is faced with this onslaught of bad news.

My advice is to talk to someone. Arrange a Skype or WhatsApp call, or send a message on Slack, just do whatever it takes…but talk to someone. More importantly, talk to your loved ones! Check on them, make sure they are OK physically, mentally, and spiritually. Everybody is going through a tough time at the moment, but tough times should prompt us to focus on what really matters in life.




The 2020 iPad Pro with the new Magic Keyboard. (Sorry Apple!)

Many of us have made (and are continuing to make) the mistake of thinking that we need more stuff in life. We dream about that job promotion, the fancy new gadget, or the shiny new car. But these things are only ephemeral. In the grand scheme of things, they hardly matter. Certainly they shouldn’t matter more than the ones I’ve listed above: Family. Friends. Community.

To all the people who are still at work during this COVID-19 crisis, to the healthcare professionals, the journalists, the Foodpanda drivers, the police officers, the garbage collectors etc, you have my utmost gratitude.

To the rest of us (myself included), stay at home, wash your hands, and be kind to each other.

Bonus link for getting to the end of the article: Coronavirus: Creativity, kindness and canals offer hope amid outbreak

Be Kind

Everyone’s attention these days is rightly focused on SARS-COV-2 which causes the illness known as Covid-19. At the time of writing, there have been a total of 182,407 confirmed cases leading to 7,154 deaths, as shown in this map by the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins.

Covid-19 map

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here are 3 simple requests I have for my fellow citizens:

Get your facts right

It is said that ‘A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes’.

That, in itself, is a lie. These days, lies travel MUCH faster than that!

I won’t even bother listing down the rumours, misconceptions, and outright fabrications that have been circulating faster than the actual virus. Suffice it is to say that if you are interested in the latest developments, then please go to official and credible sources for information. Here’s the World Health Organization website on Covid-19. And please, if you’re not sure whether something is true or not, don’t forward it to others. In fact, use this as an opportunity to educate others. Remind them that spreading unreliable information is likely to cause more harm than benefit. 

Follow experts’ advice

I’m amazed at how quickly people have become specialists in infectious diseases worldwide. Scrolling through my Facebook feed is like speed-reading The Lancet Infectious Diseases, given the amount of ‘expertise’ on display.

Sure, it’s tempting to score political points by pointing out deficiencies in how the government is handling the crisis, but this is not the time.

Sure, it’s tempting to be sarcastic and belittle our healthcare professionals for not doing enough, but try walking in their shoes (and hazmat suits) for a while and see if you can do any better. My only regret right now is that I’m away on study leave and can’t be involved with clinical care back in Malaysia.

Be kind

Last, and not least, be kind.

This is by far the MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember!

We’re all in this together. This is not something that affects only rich folks, or poor people. The virus doesn’t care what race or religion you are. It doesn’t even matter whether you are religious to begin with, for this is ultimately a test for us all. 

Can we be responsible citizens?

Can we follow simple rules for the benefit of ourselves and others?

Can we be considerate to other people in this challenging situation?

My heart goes out to my fellow citizens who don’t have the luxury of getting easy access to food, money, and healthcare. Those who have to work or else they won’t get paid their daily wage. Those who cannot take leave to look after their own children. I sincerely hope you will not be forgotten.

Until then, take care everyone.