Pandemic partying

With the possibility of a real summer ahead complete with actual fun, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that COVID, monkeypox, and other things are active in the community.

At the time this post was written (23 November 2022), Aotearoa’s stats were:

  • Total deaths attributed to COVID: 2,182
  • New COVID infection rate this week: 24,068
  • Covid reinfection rate this week: 4,874
  • Total people reinfected by COVID: 57,117
  • Number of people hospitalised by COVID in the last 7 days: 347
  • Total people with monkeypox: 35

COVID stats on the Ministry of Health website
Monkeypox stats on the Ministry of Health website

You like your mates, right? So things like COVID or monkeypox probably aren’t high on your list of things to give them for Christmas. And we’re pretty sure you don’t want to get them for Christmas either. We’ve got some tips to help keep the pandemic out of your summer so you can party.

Hand hygiene

Wash your hands. It seems too easy a fix to be true, but it’s been a proven method of drastically reducing infection since 1846.

Read about Dr. Samuel Semmelweiss’s handwashing and sepsis experiment on the National Library of Medicine website (CW death in childbirth, cross-contamination, cadaver dissection)

Basically, any viral particles that get onto your hands gets dislodged by soap and washed away. This stops them getting onto your food, into your drink, into your eyes or nose, or onto other people.

It’s not just COVID and monkeypox that handwashing helps prevent either. Fevers from things like e.coli and salmonella bacteria (commonly found in human poo), and viruses like strep throat and influenza can all have their transmission stopped by making sure you wash your hands regularly.

If you’re at a festival and there’s nowhere to wash your hands, those little bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitiser will fit in your pocket and are worth their weight in gold.

The alcohol breaks the chemical bonds in the virus’s or the bacteria’s protein chains. This means that they go from their usual folded up and functional shape to being undone completely. Once the protein chains are unzipped it kills the virus or bacteria.

Before and after: Protein chains vs: alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
Left hand side – Before: Healthy coiled protein chain paperclips
Right hand side – After: Those protein chain paperclips aren’t looking too flash…

Read more about the science of how alcohol-based hand sanitiser works on the National Library of Medicine website

Wash thoroughly

The places most people miss when they wash their hands are between their fingers, and their fingertips. Also, under your fingernails can get pretty gnarly if you’re not washing thoroughly.

You might not be too worried about between your fingers, but your fingertips are what you use to pick things up with, scratch yourself with, and poke your friends’ faces with. They’re your main physical point of contact for the world around you.

Washyourlyrics.com is a cool little site where you can plug in your favourite song and it’ll give you the length of time to complete each part of the handwash/hand sanitiser application cycle in the lyrics.
We might have made a few of these. Strictly for research purposes *cough*

Hand lotion is a good idea too

Hand lotion is also your friend. Hand sanitiser kills off viruses and bacteria, but it can also dry your skin out and make it chapped, creating tiny cracks and splits.

You want to avoid chapping because it’s another way for bacteria and viruses to get into your bloodstream. Using hand lotion a couple of times a day will help prevent your skin splitting.

Fresh tools every time

The best way to make sure you don’t accidentally expose yourself to viruses is to use clean, new utensils, and make sure you each have your own kit.

Don’t share straws

Putting something that’s already been up someone else’s nose and has a payload of their snot on it up your nose is not the best idea.

The lining of your nostrils is really thin and delicate. It’s super easy for the virus to get into the bloodstream through your mucus membranes. Also, snorting crystalline substances like MDMA can make tiny grazes in your mucus membranes. That’s why it stings. Those tiny grazes are basically an open door to your bloodstream.

Having your own disposable straw means that you keep the risks to a minimum.

Carry a cup to avoid sharing your salive along with what you’re drinking

This one’s a no-brainer. Even if your friends don’t backwash into the bottle, they’re still going to get their spit on the mouth of the bottle. This is going to go onto your mouth in a non-consensual kinda way if you then put the bottle to your own mouth.

If you do the old tilt the head back and pour into their mouth without touching the bottle trick, you’re still going to be breathing all over the bottle that someone else is then going to breathe over.

If you have your own cup you can decant your water bottle’s contents into it and pass the bottle on without passing on any potential viral particles.

Have your own NOS balloons

Again, this one’s a no-brainer. Viruses are passed on people’s breath and saliva. The little tube-y bit that you put into your mouth to inhale will have other people’s spit on it, and there’ll be exhalation-backwash in the balloon itself. Having your own balloon means that it’s just got your pathogens on it.

Have your own syringes or G fishes

Syringes and those little plastic fish-shaped soy sauce bottles for your GHB are great for measuring your dose, but they run the same risks of passing on viruses as a drink bottle.

If you share them with someone else you’ll be exposed to their saliva, and they’ll be exposed to yours.

Bubbles

Bubbles are still a great idea to minimise the risk of exposure to covid and monkeypox.

Both monkeypox and covid can be passed on via skin contact. Organising a group of people you know to snug with when you reach cuddle-puddle o’clock or you want to start a massage train reduces the risk of infection.

Keeping the people that we love from getting a completely preventable virus is really easy to do, and we can still party while doing it.

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