The Handbook
The Handbook

First things first, don’t panic and don’t do anything rash – Coronavirus is incredibly incredibly unlikely to infect you or your family. Yesterday I saw a lady being zipped into a bodybag by the side of the road after a car crash, it won’t stop me commuting, statistically you’re likely to die from cancers or heart diseases that are self-inflicted and wholly preventable and if you’re panicking about Covid-19 and still chugging back the snacks and unwise amounts of alcohol then you’ve gotten your priorities the wrong way around.

But then we always like to prepare for things that aren’t going to happen, we buy insurance in case our house burns down (which it almost never does) and we play the lottery even though the chances of your Euromillion numbers coming up are worse than being struck by lightning. So if you are anxious about Coronavirus, and you’re looking to exert some control over the situation, then here are some tips…


Venice is famous for its mask festival, with colourful and creative pieces marking this February cultural event as truly wonderful. But as the festival comes to an end this month, Bauta, Volto and Colombina are being replaced by surgical masks as Italy finds itself engulfed in a Corona public health crisis.

The main point of the masks is to stop anyone with the virus spreading it around, but masks are also helpful to protect yourself. The disease is spread primarily through droplets via coughs and sneezes, so a mask will be doubly helpful as it’ll stop you breathing in the virus as well as prevent you touching your mouth and face with hands carrying the infection.

Look for masks with Protection Factor 2 or 3 appear to be the most effective against catching the virus, ideally from reputable manufacturers like 3M.


We all laughed at the Brexit stockpilers, but will the Corona hoarders fare better? There are companies out there who specialise in pre-packed emergency food supplies for disasters, for those in inaccessible places (like the South Pole) and for Brexit and Corona hysterics. One such business is the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin who have done a roaring trade over the past year or so.

If the idea of 25-year-shelf-life chicken fajitas doesn’t put you right off, then you might well be in the market for a three month supply of vacuum packed, dehydrated food. Sure, it’ll set you back £4,495 for a family pack, but you’ll be able to weather anything that the world can throw at you in the next quarter century (for three months). And don’t worry, they do vegan food too!

For a fraction of the price you could DIY it on the cheap by buying enough canned food to last a 14 day self-quarantine period.

A Place In The Country

Lockdown, China-style, does not sound like a lot of fun. Inhabitants are forced to remain indoors, those who venture out face being followed by drones which lecture them on the dangers of the virus.

If the idea of a robot Matt Hancock chasing you down Balham High Road doesn’t fill you with excitement then maybe you need to think about where you’ll escape to before the cordons go up.

For those of us without a country pad maybe it’s worth bagsing a spot at your parents’ house, a rural friend or scanning Airbnb for options…

Hazmat Suits

The biggest trend of 2020? Don’t tell Dolce & Gabbana but it’s the humble hazmat suit. Famously seen disinfecting GPs’ offices and public spaces the world over, men and women are rocking the hazmat look this season.

Ideal if you’re constantly interacting with potentially ill patients or you’re an uber driver or similar.

But there’s already a run on the items, and let’s face it – if you need one of these then things are already pretty bad…

Investor Nerve

If you’ve got money in stocks and shares your portfolio is probably taking a battering right now, and it’s unlikely to end any time soon. As Iran and now Italy fall to widespread outbreaks of the virus the stockmarket is wary of the possible outcomes. So far it’s not all bad news, although manufacturing in Japan has taken a bit of a hit, numbers in the UK and Eurozone are all up for February.

But these underlying facts could be quickly subsumed by events if the virus goes seriously, um, viral. In which case a panic investor might want to either come out of some positions while they can or move to less exposed sectors of the economy.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that after a big pre-Christmas rally it was widely predicted that the market was ripe for a correction, so this may well be natural blood-letting. Most advisors are suggesting that investors should sit tight and not do anything, especially if your outlook is anything other than short term, it’s unlikely to be sensible to turn all your investments into cash and you risk losing a lot of money. As ever, speak to a financial advisor!

Cleaning Products

It’s not known exactly how long Covid-19 can survive on surfaces, but it’s pretty certain that standard cleaning products will kill it dead. It’s worth making sure you have plenty of surface cleaner on-hand if you’re worried about spreading the disease.

Likewise, ministers have suggested we all need to be washing out hands much more. This means with soap and for at least 20 seconds (rule of thumb from the NHS is it should take twice the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice!)

A Home Office

The government has told companies to ensure that sick-pay can be used for self-isolation, but if you’re out of sick leave, or you want your company to survive the outage, then expect to have to be able to work from home.

Obviously this doesn’t work if you’re a miner or a factory worker, but Britain is a services-driven economy and we should all be able to work from home to some extent. And if so, you’ll need wifi, a computer and all the home office essentials.

Of course the bottom line here is that you don’t need to panic. The media is full of dooms-day predictions, and articles like this one which potentially over-hype it, but the reality is that you almost certainly won’t need any of these tips. We hope…