OPINION: Try not to be a frightened recluse during the pandemic

As I write tissue boxes adorn my feet and I am about to burn my clothes after the eBay parcel of sanitiser I ordered turned out to be from China.

Thursday, 19th March 2020, 6:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 9:11 am
Portrait taken in the 50's of millionaire, aviator, film producer and director Howard Hughes (1905-1976). After injuries in an air crash in 1946, his eccentricity increased, and he became a recluse in his later life. Photo: AFP via Getty Images.

We need some light in the perpetual gloom but there is a serious point here – it’s difficult to know how cautious to be without needlessly running risks.

Younger people are generally being more blase about COVID-19 and those who I speak to are generally pleased that older people have been thwarted in their bid to set light to the world as the reduction in pollution has become apparent.

It’s tempting to try and induce greater levels of fear in Generation Z.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However the more we scare them the greater the long-lasting effects are likely to be on their mental health.

You only have to look at the tissue-box wearing Howard Hughes method of self isolation which is thought to have stemmed from his childhood. Hughes's mother was petrified about her son's exposure to germs, particularly polio, a big health risk at the time.

That translated into a phobia in later life which culminated in the legendary film-maker’s bizarre hotel self-isolation, writing guides on how to safely open tinned goods.

He would also force his staff to perform intense handwashing rituals, and to wear layers of white cotton gloves when handling documents he would have to handle.

On the other hand large gatherings which will result in coronavirus being spread exponentially are also obviously not the way to go.

The Government’s social distancing rules should be your first port of call if you are uncertain.

But please don’t become a social recluse, squirrelled away and uncommunicative with friends and family guarding your 300 packs of Andrex.

We all still need human contact, even if it be through a video call. Talk, communicate, check-in with people and find out how they are coping.

The chances are you will both feel better by the end of the call.

Meanwhile, the four horsemen of the apocalypse I spotted on the way to Aldi in my hazmat suit turned out to be Cheltenham jockeys who missed the toilet-roll rush desperate to get to ride round the traffic.