The Upper Sunshine Coast recently reported a case of the severe acute respiratory system coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19) and panic ensued. Stores of toilet paper were wiped out. Hand sanitizer evaporated. And amidst all the chaos – life on the Coast proceeded at its usual pace.

For the most part, the Coast is an island of sanity in the midst of the chaos gripping the rest of the world. Our health authorities seem to have plans in place should cases of COVID-19 arrive on our shores, and many residents are well-informed about the disease and prepared to self-quarantine if necesssary. In fact, some are actively looking forward to an excuse to stay home for two weeks and avoid people.

Next to washing hands frequently (and WHY is that considered a ground-breaking health rule?) and cleaning commonly-used items with a bleach solution (and again…) the big preventative for this latest disease is to avoid close contact with other people. This is why care homes may be on lockdown, large events are being cancelled, flights are being grounded and cruise ships are being docked. The words we keep seeing: “due to an overabundance of caution.”

Actually, it’s just common sense. We are dealing with a new (“novel”) virus, to which we have no current immunity and which researchers are scrambling to understand. What we do know is, when it hits a community it spreads rapidly, it spreads from contact with an infected person who may not show symptoms, and it seems to be particularly severe for persons over 50. So for those of us in that age bracket, or with compromised immune systems, it makes sense to keep clean, keep close to home, and keep calm.

If possible and space allows, it’s always a good plan to be ready for any emergency with a week or two of basic supplies on hand: medications, easy-to-prepare foods, pet needs, paper products etc.

Be informed. Plan, prepare, and relax. This is not the Andromeda Strain, nor the Zombie Apocalypse. We are not all gonna die.

Now – go wash your hands.