The COVID-19 pandemic: Prepare, don’t panic

Ambika Shaligram
Thursday, 16 April 2020

Coronavirus: How to Isolate Yourself, the documentary being screened on Sony BBC Earth till April 20, tells us everything that needs to be known about the pandemic

The key takeaway from the documentary Coronavirus: How to Isolate Yourself, which is currently being aired on Sony BBC Earth (till April 20) is that the virus, at the moment, cannot be wiped out (because we don’t have a vaccine yet). Still, its spread can be definitely slowed down. And, that can be achieved through self-isolation or social distancing – no hugs, no handshakes as Dr Xand Van Tulleken says and practises on Coronavirus: How to Isolate Yourself.

The documentary, which is presented by Dr Tulleken and psychologist Kimberley Wilson, tells us everything that needs to be known about the pandemic, in simple terms. 

Dr Tulleken chats up Dr Hugh Montgomery, and he explains why we need to maintain a 2-metre distance.

“One of the symptoms of coronavirus is cough, and while one coughs, almost all the droplets spread out and land till up to 2 metres. The farther you are from people, the lesser is the risk. The cough droplets contain saliva, which in turn contains viral particles. That’s why one has to wipe surfaces, wash hands and keep a distance of 2 metres from other people,” says Dr Montgomery.

The gravity of his explanation is further emphasised when he adds, “Every person passes it on to a minimum of three people and those three, in turn, pass it to three others and if that happens in 10 layers, then one person is responsible for infecting 59,000 people. So, we need to remember that if we don’t play it down, it is going to be horrible for a large number of people. Please remember, it’s not about you, it’s about everybody else.”



When you are spending time indoors, self-isolating yourself, you can’t help thinking and worrying about your family, parents, if they are not living with you. The anxiety for your loved ones manifests into thinking about their potential death. Psychologist Kimberly Wilson, in her chat, with Dr Tulleken, says anxiety levels have gone up, whether you have COVID-19 symptoms or not. “In such cases, please follow a routine, set some goals, like what do you hope to accomplish at the end of the week. A routine helps us to contain our anxiety and gives us a focussed approach. Also, indulge in puzzles, quizzes, games, start knitting, do some craft. Introduce some novelty in your life,” says Wilson.

She also adds that we need peace and breaks from other humans. Hence, it’s crucial to build an escape room for yourself. This can be just a little space in the house or in your room where you can just go and be by yourself.

Wilson also advises on nutrition and stresses on eating sensibly because no one would want to fall ill or be malnourished during self-isolation. Going to a supermarket, she picks up butter and onions (which she terms essential), some canned fish and peanut butter. In her interaction with the supermarket guy, she learns that people are into panic buying. “What we need is to stay calm and be a bit responsible to our community by buying only the essentials and ensuring that there’s enough on the shelf for everyone else,” she suggests.

Self-isolation means very few opportunities to be physically active if you are used to walking, gymming or engaging in leisure sports. But there a few exercises that you can do at home – adults, youngsters alike.

Fitness instructor Sammy Harper gets Dr Tulleken to join her in doing squats, knee to chest movements, jumps and burpees. “Do 40 seconds set of each,” she says. 

And, Dr Tulleken reminds us to stay hydrated. Lemon and honey drink can work in some measure on the dry cough.

As a parting shot, he adds, “We are in this for a long haul. But it’s up to us to slow down the virus. Self-isolate yourself.”

Watch Coronavirus: How to Isolate Yourself on Sony BBC Earth on Friday, April 17, 6 pm and 9 pm; Saturday, April 18, 8 pm and 10 pm; Sunday, April 19, 7 pm and 11 pm; Monday, April 20, 6 pm and 9 pm.

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