A very important thread by Rachel Clarke on the importance to protect our elders during the Coronavirus pandemic even if it means insisting on some basic things for their protection.

First published in March 2020.

I have discovered in conversation with the over 70s in my own family that none of them were rigorously following hand-washing protocols.

“Blitz spirit”, “Overreaction”, “The young today”... were phrases used.

As an NHS doctor, I cannot impress enough the importance of persuading your parents and grandparents why hand hygiene right now is utterly vital.

Estimates from Italy put mortality in the over 70s at 8-15%. That is, up to 1 in 7 people in this age group are dying.

Please do two things today:

1. Ask your elders to self-isolate at home. Insist upon it.
2. If they still go out, please ensure they understand the FIRST thing they must do on returning home is wash their hands. 20 seconds. Soap and water. No ifs, no buts, no excuses.

If they laugh, put on a stiff upper lip, dismiss you as paranoid, insist then to do it for them. This is a short-term measure. And it is a no-brainer. Don’t take NO for an answer.


Ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds, in arriving in the house, on arriving in any new location, after meeting anyone, before eating and drinking, after coughing, sneezing or touching their face. This advice may save their life. And will certainly slow the spread.

If each of us makes those phone calls today, then collectively we can genuinely make a difference.

Stay safe folks.

Tweets posted on 12 March 2020 by @doctor_oxford.

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 12 March 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Pxfuels.)