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Managing challenging times - Coronavirus Advice Available

20 March 2020
Type Press Release

FARM HEALTH & SAFETY: It is understandable that farmers would feel anxious with the coronavirus dominating our news and influencing our daily activities. It is important that farmers keep in contact with each other and in particular with elderly farmers

It is understandable that farmers would feel anxious with the coronavirus dominating our news and influencing our daily activities. 

It is important that farmers keep in contact with each other and in particular with our elderly farmers, farmers with underlying medical conditions and those farming on their own.  For many farmers, visitors on the farm, going to the Co-Op, the Veterinary Practice, or the shops can raise a level of concern and anxiety around the risk of coming in contact with the coronavirus. As farmers we must limit physical contact with others but our phone has an increasingly important role to play in helping to keep us connected socially and to help us offer and seek support when needed during this period.

This is a busy time of the year for farmers with cows calving, ewes lambing and work taking place on crops. Given the nature of this work there will always be a need for people to visit the farm. On many farms, this involves contractors spreading slurry, vets tending to sick animals, neighbours helping with cows calving and there are many other examples. While it makes these jobs even more difficult, it is important to be conscious of the necessary precautions to avoid the spread of coronavirus and ensure these precautions are implemented. It is important that we as farmers have a conversation with these individuals before the job starts in order to properly plan and organise with the coronavirus precautions in mind.

Teagasc advisors are available at the end of the phone for advice and support during this challenging time. Office consultations and farm visits are also taking place by appointment at clients request for urgent issues.

It is important that we as farmers understand that we have a personal responsibility to implement precautions in our everyday activities to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. This involves following the advice of the HSE with particular emphasis on social distancing, limiting our social interactions and good hand washing. Check out www.hse.ie for full details. It is important that if farmers have any medical concerns or are displaying symptoms of coronavirus, they should phone their local GP. For older people, ALONE has a dedicated Coronavirus support line (0818) 222 024.

We can feel overwhelmed by all of the information on the coronavirus and the number of new cases diagnosed each day. However, it is important that we keep perspective, that we are sensible and that we take control of our actions. Professor Paul Fearon Medical Director, St. Patrick’s Mental Health Service has outlined five strategies we can use to reduce the anxiety associated with the Coronavirus. The five strategies include:

1.    Follow reliable information – be sure of your facts

2.    Don’t forget the basics – the importance of regular, thorough handwashing and good respiratory hygiene – or covering our mouths and noses and bent elbows or tissues when we cough or sneeze – in slowing the spread of viruses.

3.    Deflect your anxiety – consider talking to family, friends, work colleagues about your shared worries and concerns.

4.    Use your experience and knowledge – you may have a range of strategies already to cope with anxiety.

5.    Stop and do a reality check – If you are constantly worried about contracting the coronavirus, think it through logically. Then, looking at all the evidence calmly, ask yourself if there are any realistic reasons to suppose you are at an increased risk at the moment.

Further information on these strategies can be found at www.stpatricks.ie

Finally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advises us to be safe from coronavirus infection, be smart and inform ourselves about it, be kind and support one another. Further information can be found here on the HSE website and at www.who.int

John McNamara, Health and Safety Specialist

Francis Bligh, Health and Safety Specialist