“Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”
I’ve been self-isolating for more than a week due to government advice during the coronavirus pandemic and so far, so good. I have two ‘underlying health conditions’ and, while not in the more severe group that need to be “shielded” from the virus, the advice for me was to social distance, as much as possible. I don’t have any symptoms and feel healthy, it’s just a precaution.
The fantastic team at BBC Radio Cumbria have enabled me to work from home so I took the decision to self-isolate, as I didn’t want to take any chances. I haven’t been out of the house since last Wednesday, 18 March. As with ‘flu, if I catch coronavirus, the risk is I’d need to be hospitalised. At a time when the NHS is pressured, I think self-isolating is the responsible thing to do. Not just for myself but to stop the spread and help others.
Working from home has been brilliant; it gives me something to focus on. I’m listed as a ‘key worker’ in the category of public service broadcasters and journalists and I’m glad to be able to play a part in supporting the BBC’s news output. I have an office space to work in and find it helps to mentally separate work from home life… although I’m sure my cat would prefer it if she could sit on my lap constantly!
With a team back at base supporting me to input cues into the internal BBC system, I’ve helped produce the breakfast programme, can record audio / broadcast using my phone and am in touch with colleagues regularly, so I don’t feel out of the loop. I miss reading news bulletins and studio producing programmes but those roles need to be done on site. I’m looking forward to getting back to that, as soon as possible.
My partner’s isolating with me, so we’ve not been able to physically shop for food for a while. I take it as a good sign that home delivery slots from the supermarkets are full for weeks in advance because it means other people are heeding the advice to stay at home. We’ve been able to get items from a local newsagent, which leaves the deliveries on doorsteps and neighbours have offered to help too.
It’s important to look after mental health at times like this and I’m in good spirits. I’m fortunate to have lovely views of south Cumbria to look at and a big garden that I try to get out in as much as possible for some fresh air. It’s where I’m writing this now. I don’t feel the need to get out and about to exercise. We have equipment we can use here anyway, I just need to motive myself to do it!
I find it difficult to read novels lately; I’m too interested in the latest news developments, but have found audio books a useful distraction to everything that’s happening in the outside world. Radio has been a great companion, as always. I have BBC Radio Cumbria on constantly while working from home and it helps to feel connected to those back at base. The importance of public service broadcasting shouldn’t be under-estimated.
Mothering Sunday was heartbreaking because I had made plans to see my Mum and Dad, all of which were put on hold. They don’t yet have video calling capabilities, but I’ve bought them an iPad so that’ll soon change. We’re in touch over the phone all the time and I was lucky to have been able to see them recently.
In terms of the future, who knows how long this will last? I was due to travel to New York after Easter which now won’t be happening. Although, the flights are still showing as going ahead. Even if the US travel ban is lifted, I wouldn’t want to go there so soon and Broadway is still on lockdown. Hopefully we can get some money back because, if we can’t get a refund, we stand to lose thousands of pounds.
Only a few weeks ago, my partner and I were in a chippy when a group of American tourists came in. It made us think ahead with excitement to our holiday in the USA. A week later we were in same chippy, the Americans had gone and it then seemed highly unlikely that we’d be going abroad at all. Fast forward another week later and we weren’t even leaving the house.
The speed the virus is spreading is shocking but we’re all in this together. The more of us who follow the advice to stay at home, and only go out when absolutely necessary, the sooner it’ll be over.
Stay strong, stay safe and take care. X