Living in a densely populated area, of course I am concerned with the ‘rapidly spreading’ virus. And there is a number of scenarios that are concerning me, for which I have prepared. But before I can dive into the scenarios, let’s get the facts down first.
- current spread of the virus in the UK is at just short of 300 cases (09/03/2020). In a country of just under 68 million people, this is NOT a lot
- although it is estimated that the mortality rate currently stands anywhere between 1%-6% depending on the age group, pre-existing conditions and healthcare system you are in, it’s actually hard to estimate because the recovery rates are compare with the case numbers changing unpredictably
- new assumptions about this virus appear on the daily, but ultimately we know just as much as the media are told (or make up) to tell us, which is not a lot
In the grand scheme of things, there are two scenarios I can play out. The first one is a panic-driven one where I stock my house up with everything I might need for the next year and don’t go out. The second one is a cautious but not a panicky one where I do indeed prepare for a potential quarantine period, an extended ‘work from home’ scenario or even the eventuality of catching the Covid-19 and having to self-isolate while I attempt to keep my immune system strong enough to fight it off.
This is how my preparation for the second scenario actually looks like:
- take caution when out of the house
- plan out the sort of foods which I, my partner and our two cats, would need during an extended containment/self quarantine period
- consider what medication might be useful in reducing the symptoms of the virus
- consider the financial implications of a potential pandemic on the broader economy and how my financial portfolio could be impacted
This is as simple as it sounds and involves washing my hands whenever possible, using antibacterial gel frequently, especially when on public transport or touching door handles, lift buttons etc. It also involves avoiding crowds and NOT kissing my friends or shaking hands. Just don’t touch each other or your own faces. I also wash my hands the moment I get home and make an effort to clean and disinfect high traffic areas daily.
What my caution does not involve is wearing a protective mask. Mainly because it’s hard to find them.
Having enough food in case of needing to self-isolate.
Luckily, I’ve been through a similar exercise not so long ago, when planning for a no-deal Brexit raise in food prices. If you are unsure about the foods you might want to stock up on, consider what you eat on the daily basis. My list is fairly long and since I am on plant based diet, my freezer is full of frozen vegetables. I seem to also have a substantial collection of tinned beans, tomatoes and coconut milk alongside the dried varieties, rice, pasta and various grains. I also have a good amount of long-lasting fresh produce such as oranges, potatoes, onions, garlic etc knocking about the house and I am keeping these topped up with every food shop I make. Aside from me there is the Boyfriend and our two cats to also cater for. As much as the boyfriend is sorted food wise, for the cats we opted to increase their reserve of prepared food pouches, tinned food, dried food and litter significantly.
Easing the symptoms.
UK, as of very recently, has imposed a limit on purchases of painkillers and fever reducing medications to two packs per shopper. Given that my partner responds better to paracetamol (which cures everything in this country, apparently) and I respond better to Ibuprofen, we increased our medicine stock by a couple of packs of each of these. Additionally, we also have some supplements to help our immune systems stay well, even though our diets are already vitamins-rich and we generally don’t get ill easily.
I am not worried about the cost of being contained for a couple of weeks, but I am worried for the long term impact of the current situation on the economy. I am also worried about the eventuality of my own death, in which my estate will need to be somehow dealt with.
Our economy is a little fragile and relies on patterns developed over the last 100 or so years. 100 years is not actually that long of a time if you think about it, a small number of people lives longer than that. So what will happen if the stock markets suddenly collapse? Will our pension savings become worthless? Will we have to rethink the whole concept of economy? Should we be storing cash under the mattress? Probably no to all of these. I am instead looking at buying just a tad more stock – with a price this low it’s almost as if there was a sale going on.
And should I die? I am unmarried, with no issue (a lovely legal term for children) and I have two living parents. I am more than happy for them to inherit everything I own, so that’s that, plus the potential heartbreak of loosing their favourite (and only) daughter.
One thing that I will say in terms of cash though is that: it is always useful to have some physical cash on hand. I usually have £20 knocking about, but not more than that. If you live in an economy where your food delivery driver can’t take a tip digitally, you’ll probably want more money on hand, but don’t go crazy on hoarding thousands of pounds in your basement bomb shelter, we’re not there yet.
So am I scared? No.
Am I anxious? No.
Am I prepared for the likely scenarios? Yes.