I’m sure most people are sick of hearing about that Virus all the time constantly, but I wanted to let you all know about our current situation and about what I know about everything so far. I thought that some of you might want to know and even feel worried.
I’ve been writing on this post since Monday, but due to constant changes in information and situations, I kept updating my draft, trying to write with the little time I had during the week. This is going to be a really long text post.
You can look at a live map, showing all confirmed cases for every place in the world. You can zoom in and click on the red dots, which will tell you the cumulative case count, the deaths, the cases who recovered and currently active cases. Though not every country has the dots as detailed as in China or the US, where every affected area gets its own dot. For most other European countries, there is just one dot that represents all cases in that country.
arcgis.com – Map created by the Johns Hopkins University
Although by now, they can’t keep up with updating the count for every place constantly, so the case count can be behind. Also, not all countries have recovered patients listed yet. Austria, for example, has 2 patients that have recovered and are free of the Virus, but they’re not listed in the dot for Austria.
Italy, one of our southern neighbour countries, is one of the worst affected countries
Italy was Nr 3, after China (Nr 1) and South Korea (Nr 2), of the worst affected countries. But now that Iran’s outbreak is growing massively, it moved to the 3rd place and Italy is now the 4th worst affected country. Iran has 4747 cases and Italy 4636 cases according to today’s case count on the live map from the Johns Hopkins University. But like I mentioned, the count is most likely behind.
The spread of the virus in Italy started when 2 Tourists from China, were diagnosed and confirmed on January 28, 2020 in Rome. By February 20, 2020 Italy had become one of the worst affected countries after China. At that time, Austria had no cases and many other European countries had none yet either. But by February 25, 2020, we started getting the first cases with people arriving from Italy. (More info in this Wikipedia article)
The first cases in Austria
February 25, 2020
Innsbruck, Tyrol, 2 Cases
Austria had it’s first confirmed cases in Innsbruck, Tyrol, the state that directly borders Italy. 2 People, a young Italian couple, who came from one of the worst affected areas in Italy.
February 27, 2020
Vienna, 2 Cases
A married couple in their 70s, were confirmed to be infected with the Coronavirus, after they came home from their vacation in Northern Italy.
February 28, 2020
Vienna, 1 Case
The son of the older couple from Vienna, was confirmed to be infected with the Virus as well.
February 29, 2020 –
Korneuburg, Lower Austria, 2 Cases
A man and woman in their 50s, from Lower Austria (the state around Vienna) who also came back from northern Italy, were confirmed to be infected with the Virus.
Eastern Styria (Our state), 1 Case
A 50 year old woman, who also came back from northern Italy, was confirmed to have the Virus. She’s now being treated in a hospital in our city, Graz.
Salzburg, Upper Austria, 1 Case
A 36 year old woman, who came back from Northern Italy as well, has been confirmed to have the Virus.
March 1, 2020
Vienna, 4 Cases
- A German couple coming to Vienna, after visiting a carnival event in Germany.
- A woman from Vienna, who came back from Italy, was confirmed to have the Virus.
- Another man was confirmed to have the virus, but I did not have any information as to where he came from, or any other information.
March 2, 2020 –
Salzburg, Upper Austria, 1 Case
1 case confirmed in Salzburg. No other details are known to the public yet.
Vienna, 1 Case
1 case confirmed in Vienna. No other details are known to the public yet.
March 3, 2020 –
Salzburg, Upper Austria, 1 Case
1 case confirmed in Salzburg. No other details are known to the public yet
Graz, Styria, 1 Case
1 case confirmed in Graz. He knew and had contact with the 50 year old woman from eastern Styria and got infected through her.
In the evening of March 3, we had 18 confirmed cases in Austria.
On March 5, 2020, the case count went up to 29. There are no more details mentioned for any of the new cases. Only the state or the city is mentioned anymore. But by now the number has gone up again most likely.
On March 6, 2020, Austria has 55 confirmed cases: Vienna (23), Lower Austria (15), our state Styria (5), Salzburg (5), Tyrol (4), Vorarlberg (1), Upper Austria (1) and Carinthia (1). In all 4000 people have been tested for the Virus.
This morning, March 7, 2020, Austria has 74 confirmed cases: Vienna (23), Lower Austria (23), Tyrol (7), our state Styria (6), Salzburg (5), Upper Austria (4), Burgenland (4), Vorarlberg (1) and Carinthia (1).
In all 4308 people have been tested for the Virus in Austria as of today.
Many of the new cases are people who were already in Quarantine, because they were friends, family and had in some way contact with one of the earlier confirmed cases. Other’s are people coming from other countries.
I’m certain the number is going to go up quite steeply for a while.
First 2 patients are healthy again
On the other hand, the first two patients that came in from Italy and then became ill in Innsbruck, Tyrol have now officially recovered. They’ve been kept in the hospital until the repeated tests showed that they were free of the Virus. Even after someone is already feeling fine again, the Virus can still be detected in the tests.
Most of the people who have been infected, are not getting severely ill thankfully. They feel better within about 10 days.
Patients that recovered from the Virus are immune against becoming sick from it again, at least for a few years. They don’t really know yet how many years, as it can also vary between people, but with other Corona-viruses people still had antibodies and therefore immunity against it up to 5 years later, others up to 3 years. But even if it’s only a year, it would be enough to ensure that the Virus will at some point have run its course and the infection rate will go down, and the Virus will, for the most part, die out.
The warmer temperatures coming with spring will help to slow down the spread of the Virus. Apparently, the Virus does not like warm temperatures when it’s outside of a body. The warmer it is, the sooner the Virus dies on surfaces. The sun will also fry it on outside surfaces.
There will be a vaccine against it
They already found a probable vaccine against it and it’s already being trialed on the first patients in the US, who volunteered to be part of the trial. Like back when Ebola was sprading in Africa, they sped up the bureaucracy and approval process. A few weeks ago they said they will be ready to start the trial in April, but apparently a vaccine is already being trialed.
They are also pretty good at isolating any new strains of the Virus quickly, as it mutates throughout the outbreak. That’s what those Viruses do unfortunately, which is why there are sometimes more than one Flu vaccine for a year. But once they have a vaccine for one strain, they are able to create more vaccines for other strains more easily.
At least that is why I found out so far.
No evidence throughout the whole outbreak that cats and dogs are able to contract the Virus!
One of my first massive worries were the cats. All cats and dogs. Our furkids. But thankfully, the ECDC and many other health organisations have found no evidence that pets can become ill or even spread the Virus. During the whole outbreak, there has been no sign of it. Most Viruses mutate to fit only cells of a certain animal family or only humans. They have the right fittings basically, to fit just the right receptors in bodies. And if it’s human cells that it has fittings for, then it will not affect a cat or dog. These fittings are made to exactly fit the receptors of certain cells, where they attach and invade. If such a Virus enters a cat, it simply can’t invade through any of their cells, since the receptors aren’t fitting together.
Now they started testing pets of Corona Patients in China and they have detected the Virus in some of the pets, who are then put in an Vet Clinic for Quarantine. But it seems the pets don’t become ill themselves. So unless the Virus mutates to be able to infect the cells of dogs, cats and other animals, the animals won’t become ill. But I guess they are worried that pets can spread the Virus.
Since it seems that cats and dogs won’t become sick themselves is a huge relief. Because I was so worried that Samantha and Sonic especially, would not be able to survive an infection, due to their age. And with Lisa and Hero, I was not sure if they are too young to survive it, or if they would be strong enough by now. But that worry is now off the table.
What I’m trying to protect us
Ralph won’t go out for as long as that outbreak is growing. I do everything I can to not bring any Viruses home, including the common flu that is also going around. I’ve been doing many of the things listed all the time already anyway.
- I carry hand sanitizer with me when I go out and disinfect my hands after I touched doors and door handles outside, after I touched shopping carts, any time basically after I touched anything that other people touch.
- I take off my shoes before I step into our apartment and then carry the shoes in and put them in the shoe storage
- Then I go straight in to wash my hands and then I wash my hands again after I took off my winter coat
- I was already used to not touching my face when I’m outside and generally not touching it much to avoid skin problems
- I keep a distance to people as much as possible and I’m not using public transport. I generally always ride my bicycle everywhere, even in the rain, but at the moment I would not get onto a bus, tram or train
- At the moment, I only go out when it can’t be avoided, like to pick up medication or prescriptions from my doctor, and I will probably still go to a few stores to buy some necessities for us and the cats, at least as long as it’s as normal as it is now. Should we be really unlucky and it gets bad, I’ll only go out for medical reasons.
People here already started small scale panic buying
Last Saturday, I went to the nearby grocery store, a rather large store. Ralph and I had planned for us to get some shopping done over the next days, to stock up for a while, so that we don’t have to go into the stores again for some time. Mostly because of the flu going around rather quite badly.
First I headed off to get powdered milk and long lasting UHT Milk. Normally that big store has a big stock of it all the time. This time though, it was ALL gone. All of it. I saw the last of the UHT milk being carried off by a few blokes who belonged together. They had 3 full shopping carts, filled to the top with nothing but UHT milk.
Even the coffee creamer powders were gone, as well as the condensed milk.
The tinned food I had planned on buying was gone as well. Just like noodles and rice. Otherwise most of the stock was still there like always. It was just the stuff that can be stocked for a while that was gone. Oh and hand sanitizers and disinfectant cleaning products were decimated pretty bad too. There are also a bunch of random empty shelves that don’t really make sense. Like just one type of produce that’s been bought up by somebody. At least in the last few days, this has been the case for all the stores I’ve been to.
I could hardly believe it. Only when I read the online newspapers for Austria, did I find out that before the weekend, some officials had recommended that people stock up on food, water, sanitising products and other necessities, to last them for about two weeks. So that was most likely the reason behind that.
Now it seems all sorts of sanitizers and disinfection products are absolutely sold out everywhere here. In all the stores I’ve been to, these things are completely gone. But, thankfully, this Virus can be killed on surfaces and on the skin rather easily. Alcohol with a high percentage should be just as good. I do have disinfection products at home, but I’m out of hand sanitizer. Therefore, I’ll get some strong Alcohol, like some typical Austrian Schnaps, which usually have a ridiculously high alcohol percentage. Then I’ll fill some of it in a small bottle and carry that with me to disinfect my hands when I’m out and about.
Stocking up to be prepared
Since people have already been panic buying, in a rather small scale compared to full-blown panic buying, while the Virus is not even widespread here, I thought I better make sure we have a good amount of everything that’s important. So I guess I’ve been panic buying then as well? But at least I didn’t empty out shelves in the stores. I ordered online and I am buying additional things for our stock, little by little.
First I placed a number of orders last Saturday for food with a long shelf live, which arrived on Tuesday. I also bought more than enough milk that won’t spoil, as well as sugar, rice and noodles, and a whole bunch of high-calorie food that lasts long and where you don’t need to eat much of it to get all the nutrients. There is a whole bunch more for us that I stocked up on, so that we could last for quite a while without having to go to the store.
I also thought that those slim fast type drinks, that are supposed to be food replacement, can be a great emergency food source. I have some of it, because I had phases where I had no appetite at all and could not get anything down, but I was at least able to drink those.
Also stocking up for the cats
I already have quite a bit of food stocked for the cats anyway, but I also ordered some more on Saturday. Mainly I ordered dry food, since that lasts long and you get a whole lot of it. I wanted to have that covered first. But I will also try and stock up on wet cat food now as much as possible.
Even today as it was raining hard, I rode to the closets pet supply store to buy some more supplies for the cats.
Ideas for the cats
Then I realised that baby kitten formula can be a great emergency food supply for the cats, at least in the worst case. Since it will give them all the nutrients and energy.
Also, there is formula for cats in recovery, which is very similar to the baby kitten formula. I’ve got both at home for Samantha to help her gain some weight.
Then I thought about the kitty litter and how I could have enough of that at home. It seems the silicate type, which I have never used before, could be a great idea for an emergency kitty litter supply. Since it is lightweight and supposed to last quite a while.
Maybe those ideas can help someone. Also, if you have any helpful suggestions for the cats and us, let me know in the comments or in an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My worry was/is not so much about the getting sick myself, but about the access to my pain medication
Due to the emergency epidemic laws, any establishment, office, store, building etc., has to be closed right away, if there is just one person that frequented said place even just once, and then turns out to have the virus.
Also, everyone who works at one of these places and anyone who was present in these places at the same time, has to be tested multiple times and stay home in quarantine for 2 weeks, or until they recovered and the Virus isn’t detected anymore in their blood tests.
It just takes one person, in any of the places I depend on for my pain medication, and it has to shut down instantly.
I depend on…
- my doctor’s office, to write my pain med prescription once a month.
- the health department’s office for narcotic medications, who’s head doctor stamps and signs the prescription to make it valid. Without that, you can’t get anything at the pharmacy.
- my pharmacy, who has the physical prescription as well as all my medicine for the month, to be picked up by me in the intervals it says on the script. So I never actually have all of it at home.
So even if just a person, who simply worries they could have contracted the Virus, comes into my doctor’s office, the doctor’s office is shut down right away by the health department head doctor and it’s going to stay closed until that person is cleared to be free of the Virus.
There has been a case just like that, a few days ago, in Lower Austria. A woman who ran into her GP’s office, worried about being infected with the Virus, the GP then had to close down the office in an instant, call the health department, who will then officially close down the office. Even though that woman turned out to be free of the Virus, the Doctor’s office is still closed and not even the Doctor himself knows when he’ll be able to open up again. He’s not even receiving any information about it upon request either.
Even though the way this case was handled by that counties health department is being widely criticised, (ie. not informing the Doctor about anything about to when he will be able to go back to helping his patients), it is certain that any doctors office will stay closed for many days. They don’t test a person just once, they do it repeatedly over the course of a couple days and up to the whole 14 days, just to make sure, since it can take a while before the Virus has reproduced enough times within a persons body to reach a detectable amount.
Government and media has been trying to get it into people’s heads to simply stay home and call the special hotline, that’s just there to send health care professionals to people who think they could have contracted the Virus. That phone number is under every new article about the outbreak, on every information provided about the Virus in Austria online and there are signs on the doors of doctors’ offices and hospitals, imploring people to NOT walk in if they think they could be infected with the Virus, explaining the consequences for the place if they do. Along with that, the sings list the number they need to call to get help.
But yet, this woman walked into that doctors office anyway.
All this worried me sick over the last 2 weeks.
The prospect of losing access to that treatment from one day to the next is extremely frightening, especially when you don’t know if there would be any help at all. Lot’s of uncertainty.
As of now, most, including the staff at my doctor’s office and most other people, don’t think the chance is very high that it’s going to be so bad.
Thankfully, I already have the next prescription all sorted out. My current one still goes till the end of next week. My pharmacy also already has the next prescription, which starts after next week and goes until almost mid-April. To have the actual valid prescription sorted out is the most important thing. Because I do think that the likelihood to get help since I can prove I have a valid prescription, is rather high. Especially since it’s not my fault if the pharmacy has to shut down. There are also many many many more patients like me in the exact same situation all over Graz and the Metro area.
But I have quite a bit of hope that it will get better soon
Knowing Austria and most of central Europe and how things are done here, it’s unlikely that whole cities or districts would be closed down. It’s even unlikely that any border would be closed.
But they finally stopped all direct flights from the worst affected countries. In addition, people who are coming from affected countries have to get themselves tested before they leave for Austria. Upon entry into Austria, they have to provide a doctors letter for the airports customs/immigration officers, confirming that they have been tested and are negative for the Virus.
They are now also starting to have random health checks (temperature measuring and interviews) on the border to Italy for anyone arriving by car. The governement said they know that isn’t eliminating the full risks, but it should help to reduce the number of people traveling to Austria, which will then hopefully slow down the outbreak.
Just like I was saying to Ralph before we even had a case in Austria, that by the time they do something, it will always be a bit too late. Those measures would have been great for the beginning, right when it got so bad in China.
The most helpful thing would have been to simply close ALL borders and private travel to Austria, and let only goods and mail/parcels go in and out. Then even on the motorways, it would only be the truck drivers who enter Austria with their trucks full of goods. Of course in the beginning, this would have caused a lot of traffic jams and challenges, but by now it would have been sorted out. Had they done this right in the by mid-January, all over Europe, we would be far better off now. Because I think the economy is going to suffer a lot more now than it would have if only goods were able to freely travel in and out. Within the countries, life and shopping would have gone on as usual.
But thankfully, people are avoiding travel more and more out of their own accord. Businesses in the Tourism industry are now complaining that they have not enough tourists now, but except for them, people are happy about that.
I’ve seen the empty streets in many cities in Europe on the news. Here in Graz life still seems to go on like always. The number of people wasn’t any lower in the city from what I saw all week. The city centre is usually packed full of people on Friday afternoon and Saturday, with people going shopping in all the stores and people sitting in the Cafés, laughing and having fun. The city centre, is a typical shopping area, with one store after the other, as well as lots of Cafés.
Apparently, in the UK toilet paper, kitchen rolls and all sorts of things are running out in stores because people are panic buying in lots of places. I’m now only going to Aldi’s and Spar and they still had enough of everything, even the long-lasting milk is still plentiful. Except for tinned food and all disinfection cleaning products and hand sanitisers. These products are completely gone everywhere. But as long as you can buy strong alcohol, like Schnapps and Vodka, for example, that’s perfectly enough to clean surfaces and kill the Virus. Even just washing your hands with soap should be enough, as long as you wash them really well.
Ralph, the cats and I right now
We’re all fine, as are the cats! We’ve got lots of kibbles stocked up for the cats and we have food and drink stocked up for us as well. So on that end, we’re not going to have any problems.
At the moment, I’m still feeling the migraine I had come on earlier in the evening. It was gone, but then came back when I was doing household chores… It was the second migraine today, the first one I got in the morning. Me worrying about losing access to my pain medicine, would help to prevent some of the migraines I’m getting right now. It would also be nice for poor Ralph, who’s been listening to me worry for two weeks now…
Otherwise, spring is coming, there are beautiful little spring flowers everywhere in the garden and bushes and trees are starting to sprout. Soon, the cats will be able to lie in the sun on the balcony and open windows (with cat safety nets of course).
The birds are also feeding happily and collecting little sticks for their new nests. We’re looking forward to the late spring and early summer, as by then, hopefully, this crisis will be over.
Stay safe with your sweet furkids everyone. I’m worried about all of you who live in an area that has a large scale outbreak. Thinking of you all and sending lots of love from Ralph, the cats and myself <3