A word from Dr Greg White, Cromwell Family Practice GP

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Approaching winter will make it harder to clear the air of Covid

I’d love to write about the latest heart medications, but while 95% of our workload is Covid related, sadly it won’t be the case.

The relentless barrage of Covid information is too much for some, but healthcare staff don’t get to “learn to live with it”.

We’ve all managed to avoid it at work despite multiple family members being infected.

Two years ago we recoiled at anyone with a cold, now we are in close contact with Covid patients daily.

N95s do work.

However, we are transitioning to elastomeric N100s.

Most GP clinics have heavy restrictions on normal care and as soon as Omicron landed in Queenstown we had positive cases coming in.

We are back to a 2020 scenario where clinic waiting rooms are the perfect superspreader sites until we get universal N95 masking.

It’s not even winter yet, with only 15% of people infected so far, so what can we do?

Should we bother if it’s just a cold?

The short answer is yes, avoid Covid if you can.

It’s an intracellular parasite that damages blood vessels in multiple organs for months and leads to cellular syncytia that evades immune attack.

Large studies show a higher risk of stroke, blood clots, and heart attacks than smoking and diabetes combined, for at least a year after infection.

Good old aspirin may prove a useful weapon.

Paxlovid and Pulmicort are now able to be prescribed for high-risk groups.

However the most important thing we all need to do is clear the air.

Literally.

Early on I remember “experts” insisting droplets will fall down within 2m.

After two years there is a grudging admission it is mostly airborne, in aerosols that float in the air for several hours.

Think cigar smoke.

We can use a mask, but we now should all be demanding clean air to breathe.

Cross ventilation in winter is hard, but any effort reduces inhaled viral load.

We have started using COmonitors at work, <800ppm means you’re re-breathing < 1% exhaled air from others.

A bigger job is investing in HEPA air filters in homes, offices, shops, cafes and classrooms. Hopefully we see a traffic light rating system on businesses for air quality, similar to energy star ratings.

This is what “living with Covid” will look like for months or years to come, until we get sterilising vaccines to beat a constantly mutating enemy.