Like many of you, I’ve been paying close attention to the coronavirus outbreak since it began making daily headlines. I work at a university here in British Columbia, where instructors have already faced the occasional student who refuses to come to class because until the face mask they’ve ordered has arrived. A small number of people have also suggested that instructors wear a face mask while teaching.
All the TV news, social media, and work discussions have served at least one useful purpose, which is to remind me that all sorts of germs are out there right now. So, we’ve ordered more disinfectant wipes for our common areas, plus hand sanitizers for the staff. I also keep a small bottle on the front counter in my office with a sign encouraging people to use it if meeting with department personnel. I take it upon myself to wash my hands more often and wipe down countertops. I’m also trying to make a conscious effort not to touch my face, which isn’t as easy as it should be.
Last week, I was working out at the gym, when a young woman got on the bicycle beside me and, while chatting on her phone, said, “I’ve been sick a week”. I was working on a circuit equipped with about 18 different machines. It was fairly empty at the time, but she picked the one next to me. I quickly moved onto a machine well away from her.
Gym users are supposed to use the wipes provided in the dispensers to wipe equipment down. I’ve noticed a lot of people doing so lately, but the sick woman didn’t have one. I’m not prone to paranoia and definitely not hysteria, but I do think everyone needs to be more diligent with hand-washing.
When I came to work on Monday, someone had stolen our hand sanitizer from the front counter, ignoring the do-not-remove label. If people are behaving that way at a campus thousands of miles from the epicenter, what must it be like for those living in Wuhan, China?