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I'm a Doctor and Here are 5 Places I Would Never Go

This MD explains her no-go zones during the pandemic.
Caucasian young female doctor looking in camera while making stop sign with hand.

Doom and gloom! Did you see the recent WHO prediction that the COVID-19 pandemic may last for two years? Two years of not being able to do all those things we use to know and love. Those things we used to look forward to, and just took for granted. The fun things that made life so much worth living.

As a doctor, I'm practicing mitigation measures, as I hope you are—although bear in mind that my husband is being shielded as he has lymphoma, so I have to be extra careful. My decisions may be different from yours, but in principle, we all want to stay safe and not take any more risks than we need. So here are five places that I, as a doctor, wouldn't go to right now. Read on, and to keep yourself and others safe during this pandemic, don't miss this essential list of the Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

1

I Would Not Travel on Holiday

Virus mask woman travel wearing face protection in prevention for coronavirus at airport.
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Tempting as it may seem, taking a holiday overseas right now is fraught with potential problems. With great sadness, we canceled all the holidays we had planned for the entire year, right back in March at the start of the lockdown of the UK, where I live. We have not been tempted to reinstate them. Here are some of my reasons.

  • First and foremost, there is no doubt your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is lowest if you stay at home.
  • The CDC is advising that those at higher risk from the virus, including all older people and those with chronic medical conditions, avoid non-essential air travel. 
  • At present, the UK advises against all but essential travel to the USA, and the USA advises against all but non-essential travel to the UK! So, I guess you and I will not be seeing each other soon.

2

I Would Not Go to a Bar or a Nightclub

Friends in the Pub
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One of the riskiest things you can do right now is to visit a bar or a nightclub. Many venues have indeed tried hard to put measures in place to keep customers safe, which is to be applauded. But they vary enormously in how well they enforce these measures. 

For example, a recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases, involving 140 people from 12 different counties, was traced back to visiting one particular bar in Michigan. In Korea, one 29-year-old asymptomatic man visited five night clubs, and unknowingly infected 246 people.

Going to a bar is the complete reverse of social distancing! It means going indoors, for what is likely to be a relatively long period of time and being surrounded by many people who are not from your household.  

3

I Would Not Go to a Gym

Young woman drinking water and taking a break after workout in gym,
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It's a complete paradox—we all need to get fit, do more physical exercise and lose weight, but the worst places to visit right now, are gyms and indoor sports centers. In the US, some of these began reopening in July, with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place; however, it remains to be seen just how risky a visit will still be. When you go to a gym, you share all the equipment with other gym members. You might think the gym machines lend themselves to social distancing, as they each occupy their own space. The problem is, as soon as you start to use them, the physical exertion means breathing deeply and rapidly. The warm, moist environment is also well suited to viral transmission.

4

I Can't Go to a Ballroom Night

senior couple dancing together at dance hall
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I love Ballroom and Latin dancing, but I have not danced a step since lockdown. Dancing is a high-risk past-time for becoming infected with the virus. On August 8th, a letter was published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, reporting a cluster of cases of COVID-19 linked to a dance school in South Korea. 

5

I Can't Go and See the Doctor—Unless it's Essential

Doctor and senior man wearing facemasks during coronavirus and flu outbreak
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Just like everyone else, I can't easily get to see or speak to a doctor right now. I might like to,  but the restrictions in place affect me the same as they do you. The medical profession has done what it can. When you arrive at a clinic or a hospital, anyone high-risk for COVID-19 is segregated on arrival. So, if you attend with a non-COVID related problem, you should be seen in a "clean area," or better still at a "clean site."  Medical staff seeing COVID-19 patients are kept away from patients who are not thought to be infected.

If I had a medical emergency, I would not hesitate to phone for an ambulance.

6

Final Thoughts From the Doctor

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I think the pandemic has created stresses which are impossible to quantify or express, but, there have been good things too, such as teaching us kindness, slowing the pace of life, a sharpened focus on nature, being happy with the simple things in life, and being able to focus on those we love. We just have to get through this somehow … and there may be at least another 18 months to go!

And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.

Dr. Deborah Lee is a medical writer for Dr Fox Online Pharmacy.

Deborah Lee, MD
Dr. Deborah Lee is a health and medical writer with an emphasis on women's health. Read more