Gold Coast bodyboarder living in Spain: "Wake up and lock down!"

March 29, 2020 | Bodyboarding
Simon Murphy: the Gold Coast bodyboarder is living

Simon Murphy is a Gold Coast bodyboarder living in Spain, one of the epicenters of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak.

His wife is a health care professional currently working in the battlefront at a hospital in the north of the country.

This is his heartbreaking testimony:

"This life-saving news for your crew in countries that are still not as bad as we are here in Spain. No fake news, no conspiracy bullshit.

S**t is really hitting the fan, and surfing isn't even on my mind now after ten days with the missus working in a hospital about to collapse.

I wrote this on March 20, 2020 - the numbers are much worse now.

Take the time to read it and understand why you all got to lock down and why your actions will save lives.

Madrid hospitals are on the verge of collapse, and some countries like my home Australia still way too lax on measures.

After a week lockdown here in Spain and reading a lot of misinformed, ignorant commentary from people back home in Australia, I thought it was time to post about what is really going on and why everyone back home should be getting themselves prepared and organized.

And when I say prepared, I'm not referring to this ridiculous panic-buying which has been shameful to watch from afar and very un-Australian.

Pull your heads in people!

Anyway, I'm no medical expert, but my wife is a nurse, and she is on the frontline at a hospital in Bilbao, northern Spain.

She has witnessed it all first-hand and was coincidently posted in the pneumonia ward before the outbreak.

They have had to send most patients from the ward home because they have no hope against the virus if they get infected!

I am going to try and break this down for all the doubters out there and just to explain the importance of self-isolation.

To fully understand the gravity of the situation, just look at the timeline here in Spain.

A Deadly Exponential Growth

Up until early last week, many of us, including myself, were still skeptical about the extreme procedures being implemented in China and Italy to combat the spread.

Cases started popping up here and there in Spain, and then suddenly, they started multiplying exponentially.

At the start of the week on Monday, March 9, we had 1000 cases; by Thursday, March 12, 3,200 cases, and were told all educational facilities would be closed for 15 days.

On Friday, with 5,200 cases, I was let go from work indefinitely.

On Saturday, at 10 pm, with 6,400 cases, the Spanish government declared lockdown.

Now, Sunday, March 22, a week later, we are at 29,000 cases with 1,785 of these being treated in Intensive Care Units (ICU) around Spain and 1,720 deaths.

Spain now sits third globally for cases.

So herein lies the problem - we now have nearly 30,000 cases out of a population of 46 million.

Insignificant as most doubters of the virus have been saying. However, Spain has a total of 3,200 ICUs.

Some hospitals in the capital Madrid are already at full capacity!

They are currently rushing to set up hotels and an exhibition center to handle the predicted overflow of patients and an extra 100 ICU beds.

Yes, most people in general recover and have mild or even no symptoms.

Still, for those 3-5 percent who are mostly elderly or people with existing health conditions, it means serious and urgent medical attention.

Do the math people! More cases, more patients in need of treatment, and no ICUs!

This is already happening in northern Italy, where they have had to adopt wartime procedures, which means picking only the people they think are worth saving because they don't have the equipment.

Spain: one of the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak | Photo: Creative Commons

Australia: Get Ready As Soon as Possible

In Australia, there are just 2,229 ICU beds.

That's why we must all stay at home, and if you have to go out, take precautions and distance yourself from others.

Here in Spain, 12 percent of infected cases are health care workers like my wife.

The situation is that extreme that they have run out of basic safety equipment at her hospital!

She has to wear a paper gown, which does nothing, and a mask that is not up to standard.

Every time she comes home from work, she has to jump into a plastic bag, not touch anything, put all her clothes in the bag, jump in the shower, and then we can't go near her until we get the results from tests 2-3 hours later.

On a personal level, she can't risk going near my father-in-law, who is in the extremely vulnerable category as he only has one lung and has had heart problems.

A 51-year-old nurse also in Bilbao and two young police officers - 37 and 38 - lost their lives this week after becoming infected whilst working.

It's not just the elderly with existing medical conditions!

Every night at 8 pm, everyone all over Spain heads out to their balconies and windows to clap and sing in recognition of the fantastic effort of the nation's medical staff.

Everything has happened so quickly that it still hasn't quite sunk in.

Lock Down, Now

We are living in this surreal state of enforced lockdown where you can only leave your home to go to the supermarket, the chemist, the rubbish bin, or in a few (unlucky) cases work and only on your own.

Strict measures but not enough according to Chinese experts who completely shut down the worst-hit zones in China.

We still have people working in some sectors, public transport, couriers, etc.

However, these experts have said we need to do more to successfully halt the spread as they have done in China and South Korea.

In saying that, I would still like to applaud the Spanish government with the way they have handled this extraordinary situation.

Yes, they have made mistakes, but they have been facing up and informing the public every day since day one.

Bravo from someone who has been a harsh critic of Spanish politics!

The good news back home is that Australia still has time and can learn from our initial mistakes by shutting everything down as of now before case numbers blow out.

People seem more worried about the "how" and "why" this virus formed?

Let's worry about that later and fight the bloody thing first.

Australia: wake up and lock down while you still have the chance.

It's real, highly contagious, and is going to grind the world to a halt for months to come.

We need to stop acting selfishly at the supermarkets, stop mass gatherings, support your health care workers, police, cleaners, supermarket staff, etc. as they are the real superheroes and the ones that are going to help get us out of this.

All you have to do is sit on your arse at home for a month or two - a small price to pay!

Stay safe, everyone. Be patient, look after the elderly, help flatten the curve, so our ICUs handle, and have faith in the lockdown.

Stay at home. See you all in the tube on the other side."