Nations around the world are encouraging their citizens to avoid all but essential social contact amid a coronavirus pandemic. Even the young, who are less prone to the consequences of catching coronavirus, are being encouraged to practice social distancing and help flatten the curve.
It's hoped that by limiting the amount of social interaction, we can slow the spread of the virus and reduce the number of patients in the healthcare system at any one time. This is vital in reducing the number of fatalities as a result of coronavirus.
Despite the proven effectiveness of this method in China and South Korea, it's proving difficult to get those in Western countries to stay inside. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has threatened mandatory quarantine after people flaunted advice to stay indoors. And in the United States, thousands of young people took part in Spring Break despite recommendations to stay away from the beaches.
Now, healthcare workers are taking to social media in a bid to get people to limit their social interaction. These people, who are on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic, have been sharing photos of their exhausted faces, bruised by the protective gear that they have to wear to protect themselves from the virus.
“This is the face of someone who just spent nine hours in personal protective equipment moving critically ill COVID-19 patients around London. I feel broken – and we are only at the start. I am begging people, please please do social distancing and self-isolation,” anesthetic registrar Natalie Silvey from the United Kingdom wrote in a now-viral tweet.
Other healthcare workers included their own selfies in a bid to show just how hard they're working. "Here’s mine from yesterday after only 4 hours," registered nurse Liz Staveacre wrote.
"I feel your pain this was me last night on shift as a critical nurse when I went on my lunch hour after wearing a mask and all the gear and do you know what I wouldn’t be doing anything else," another user added.
"I was honestly wondering if everyone's face was bright red after taking off their mask," another added. "Stay safe everyone!"
Nurse Cao Shan was photographed after working in an isolation ward at Wuhan's Jinyintan Hospital. "She and her husband, a doctor also working at the hospital, have slept in the vehicle for 23 nights to avoid bringing viral hazards around, save commuting time, and give their assigned nearby hotel room to colleagues," the photo caption read.
In Italy, photos of healthcare workers Nicola Sgarbi, Martina Benedetti, and Alessia Bonari also went viral.
"I mainly took the photo for two reasons. Firstly, to send it to my partner, to tell her that I had finished my shift at work and that I was on my way home, slightly bruised," Sgarbi told CNN. "Secondly, to show it to my 1-year-old daughter when she will have grown up. I will be telling her about this moment."
"I’m not afraid when I’m at work," another nurse wrote on Instagram. "I’m doing what I was trained to do. I’m afraid when we run out of resources— supplies and staff. Covid19 is real and it’s here. Stay home, wash your hands and stop buying all the things that healthcare workers need to do their job. When we don’t have what we need to take care of you, we too will become ill... then who’s left to take care of you and your loved ones?"
"This is what you look like after wearing an N95 mask all day," one nurse wrote on Twitter.
If we all stay inside and only go out when we need to, we can beat this thing.
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.