Dentistry in a Coronavirus World
It really wasn't that long ago that we surrounded ourselves with friends and family, ringing in the New Year with hugs, kisses and a wee dram. Quick on the heels of Hogmanay came Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis. But looking back on it all – it feels like another lifetime! Today we find ourselves limited to socialising with the people in our households, maintaining all other relationships online. When we do go out, we have to keep a distance of at least 2 metres.
But while the UK battled wind and rain, China was reporting new cases of pneumonia to the World Health Organisation (WHO). You'd have been forgiven at the time if you were initially dismissive of the news.
COVID-19 - How did we get here?
- On 31 December 2019, a "pneumonia of unknown cause" is detected in Wuhan, China and reported to the WHO.
- On 30 January 2020, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern was declared.
- On 11 February 2020, WHO announced a name for the new coronavirus disease: COVID-19 (and not because it was the 19th strain of the virus, but because it was first detected in 2019).
- On 20 March 2020, the UK moved from the 'containment' to 'delay' phase of the government's 4-step plan.
- On 23 March, the four-nations of the UK announced a lockdown.
And with no vaccine or drugs available to treat COVID-19, the four-nations in the UK are adopting community-based interventions to help slow the spread of the disease – school closures, remote working, cancelling the football, rugby and all social gatherings. We're suddenly using words like 'furlough' and 'social distancing' as if we knew what they meant before the world changed!
Bless you! From 2 metres away.
You may be asking why two metres? Why not three? Or one? When someone coughs or sneezes, the small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth may contain the virus. If you stand too close, you can breathe in those droplets and catch the virus. It's that simple.
Maintaining a distance of at least two metres is designed to reduce those methods of transmission. (Never before has 'Catch It, Kill It, Bin It' been so prudent).
Joining the dots
Here comes the science [and maths] bit. Or more precisely, our interpretation of it…
Someone infected with COVID-19 will typically spread it to two or three other people (2.5 if you want to be precise) and that's why scientists have given COVID-19 an R-nought (or R0, or RZero) value of R2.5. The aim of the game, though, is to get this value below R1 - it's at that point the disease stops spreading. Four factors go into calculating the R-nought value: Duration, Opportunity, Transmission, Susceptibility (hence, joining the DOTS).
The social distancing rules that are now part of our daily lives seek to affect the Opportunity value.
By reducing the Opportunity, we ensure the virus has fewer chances to spread to other people simply by:
- seeing less of them; and
- maintaining a distance of at least two metres when we're out shopping for essentials, or getting our daily dose of fresh air.
What we find incredible is that every single one of us can actively lower the R-nought value, protect the most vulnerable in our communities, and play a significant role in getting the country back to 'Business As Usual'.
Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives
For social distancing to be successful, everyone needs to actively reduce the rate and opportunity of person-to-person contact to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Mitchell Dental Care will be back trading under the 'new normal' as soon as restrictions are lifted. We hope you can Stay Home, Protect the NHS ... and ultimately Save Lives. We also hope you 'Stay Safe'.
We will keep you posted when we are able to start trading properly again.