Doctor’s Orders; How to Avoid Coronavirus and Look After Your Health

Doctor’s Orders; How to Avoid Coronavirus and Look After Your Health

Image: UNSPLASH

I’m actually starting this post with an apology.

Unless you’ve been living under the sea or in a coma, you will have heard about the global pandemic of COVID-19, an outbreak of coronavirus that is spreading fast and spreading wide. More than 90,000 people have been affected and related deaths have been recorded as in excess of 3,000.

Symptoms include coughing, fever, and shortness of breath. In some cases COVID-19 has caused pneumonia and is particularly dangerous for those of ill health and compromised immune systems.

Like me, you might read that last bit and go “Oh that’s fine then!” and even more so when you chalk up the death rates to mean this strain of coronavirus has a 1% fatality. The use of the word only when people, health experts and the media are saying only vulnerable and already ill people are dying from coronavirus is ableism at its finest, and we all need to check ourselves on that right now.

A death is a death. Death is bad. We don’t like death. But for some reason, when it comes to disabled and compromised members in society, death is seen as a shruggable consequence of unfortunate genetics and biology. Take a minute to step back and realise HOW FUCKED UP THIS IS!

I’m not proud to admit I was guilty of this line of thinking and it took a tweet from somebody for me to realise I am a horrible person for it.

Sums it up really. The idea that the deaths of vulnerable persons is no cause for concern and nothing that needs addressing is nothing short of eugenics; ignorant, callous, Nazi-style eugenics. Nobody has a right to say any one particular group of people have less of a claim to space in this world. So I am sorry if by chance anything I have said in regards to the outbreak downplays the deaths that have occurred, and you should be too if you’ve done the same.

We have a duty to look out for each other in society. So while yes, you might be perfectly healthy and not at risk of anything more than a cough, put the below tips into practice to stop the spreading of coronavirus and recognise the impact this outbreak can have on those that are vulnerable:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue/sleeve when you cough or sneeze (Do not use your hands)
  • Wash your hands often and make sure you scrub your hands well
  • Scrub your hands when washing for 20 seconds, or if you want to have some fun, sing the chorus of ‘Africa’ by Toto. Yep, it’s 20 seconds, and makes basic hygiene incredibly epic
  • Call 111 if you suspect you have symptoms, have been in a country or area with high recordings of coronavirus in the past 14 days, or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus
  • Do not go to your GP, pharmacy or hospital if you think you have it. Call 111
  • Isolate yourself for 14 days if you have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus even if you are not showing symptoms
  • The virus is spread via droplets from coughing or sneezing that land on surfaces and get picked up when a new person touches said surface. For this reason, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose with your hands if you can
  • Keep surfaces you frequently touch as clean as possible using wipes and hands-free options where offered
  • Do not share things like food/items if people are using bare hands to handle it
  • Avoid shaking hands and kissing even if you really really fancy them
  • Do not travel to affected areas if it can be helped

Obviously, some of these are easier said than done. These tips shared from the NHS and other government bodies also further raise the point of who ‘deserves’ to be kept safe from infection and who doesn’t in the eyes of society.

For another example, as far as I can tell, there has been no national or widespread effort to get homeless people tested and ensure their safety when they are without question one of the more vulnerable demographics and capable of spreading the virus further. It’s all very well for government officials to tell us to be clean and stay at home, but where are the directions for when that isn’t an option?

Sex workers are also being ignored despite many people’s livelihoods depending on physical contact or shared spaces. I don’t necessarily just mean paid sex, but even strippers and other legal adult entertainers are at greater risk than others due to their line of work and there seems to be no effort to minimise potential risk.

As usual, advice to tackle the pandemic and efforts to reassure have been mostly directed at able-bodied, financially healthy office workers. Only some mention of action in schools despite kids being notoriously germy and sticky as well.

But is this blanket short-sighted advice because we’re not really allowed to get sick?

Despite following the guidelines issued by the NHS above and being healthy and able-bodied, anyone can still get sick. And let’s face it, if you are usually healthy and able-boded and you get sick, you are going to work no matter what the papers say.

This is also, fucked up.

Despite countless studies, pieces of medical advice, cases, agreed feelings, articles, and general common sense, people go to work sick and it’s expected that you will not leave even if you’re absolutely dying.

The Office for National Statistics found that workers in the UK take an average of 4.1 sick days per year (whatever the fuck that means, like what is 0.1 of a day? A lie in?) as of 2017, whereas it used to be 7.2 days in 1993. Are we healthier? Is work better?

I wouldn’t say so. But we do feel guiltier.

There is a culture in working life to work yourself to the absolute bone as your day-to-day effort. Half your entitled lunch hour at your desk, come in early, leave late… it’s not right. Chronic illness or physical impairment? Sorry, that doesn’t play well in the workplace! Better put yourself in danger to be seen as a productive staff member!

I may not have had the steadiest employment history as any of my close circle can tell you, but I do know that if you are not paying me for it, I am not doing it. If you want me earlier, pay me from earlier. If you want me to work through my lunch, pay me to work through my lunch. If you want your workers to ignore their own personal conditions, you better have funeral costs included in your benefits package. We all need to stand up more and realise that work is an exchange, not a negotiation. Do not try and slip your workers more work than their paygrade, hours or ability that you advertised for require.

And that includes sick work.

Image: UNSPLASH

How sick leave ties in to my ranting about coronavirus is that apart from you denying what you’re legally entitled to when you don’t take sick leave, you are actually being a selfish prick.

As discussed above, those who are more adversely affected by sickness are rarely thought of when illness is on the table. You might think you can push through the beginnings of the flu, but your desk neighbor with lupus can’t. You might think it’s better to show your face and just go home early but your boss you just shook hands with has a diabetic child that doesn’t. We as a society need to start thinking of health as a community issue, not a personal one, and that starts with shaking off this mentality of “I’ll be fine so I don’t need to worry”. There are thousands of people who will need to worry because of your arrogance.

Taking care of yourself ultimately results in taking care of others. You are a human and you are allowed to be sick. Do what you can to prevent getting sick in the first place, and if you’re unlucky enough to get struck down with something, quarantine yourself and let your body repair.

Now, let’s all listen to ‘Africa’…

Ivy Asia, The Ivy, Manchester

Ivy Asia, The Ivy, Manchester

The ornate decor makes the place fit for a Bladerunner sequel.

You’re welcomed inside by a cheerful doorman fancifully adorned in St Patrick’s-esque green attire. Two immaculately presented concierges sit behind an enormous white marble desk and peppily catch your attention before you can wander around the three floors of the building without aim or agenda. Confirmation and instructions are given for our booking and we enter the ornate elevator behind us, satisfied that we are in for a treat.

This is The Ivy and it’s telling you how fancy it is.

The Ivy might not be everybody’s cup of tea. For me, it depends on what I want and what kind of day it is, but it’s my birthday and I want to be pampered and feel reet posh.

Situated in Spinningfields in between The John Rylands Library and 20 Stories, before you even get there you know it’s going to be pretty swanky. Spinningfields in Manchester has been likened to Canary Wharf in London and is steadily gaining a reputation for being an upmarket, glossy location to grab fanciful food and decadent cocktails. Glass buildings and financial brand names adorn the area and while initially you do enjoy the masquerade of being wealthy and white-collar, you can’t help but feel the needleprick of Manchester’s gentrification slowly piercing into your skin.

Spinningfields’ glow-up from slum to sanctum is perhaps an outdated point to make, seeing as the area Friedrich Engels once described as “ruinous and filthy districts, people whose occupations are thieving and prostitution” was described as such some 150 years ago. But anyone who frequents the city will be able to tell you Manchester is changing. It’s busier, it’s more expensive, it’s less friendly. I’m not enough of a local to tell you whether it’s a good or a bad thing, but there is a definite shift happening and time will tell if that shift prices out the born and bred people who call the city home.

But back to Ivy Asia.

We step out of the elevator onto the second floor. The decor is still ornate but with definite Asian nods and influences. We’ve come to the right place.

Another concierge pleasantly confirms our booking and shows us to a table, where a third staff member introduces herself as our server and hands us our menus. As much as all the staff have been lovely and efficient, I’m not sure so much interaction needs to be had, but I remind myself that if you want spoiling with luxury, there’s actually a lot of hand-holding involved.

The room is stunning. The eye-catching features are the luminous green tiles beckoning you with their lilypad lighting to keep stepping in, and the Japanese Kawara canopy built in over the bar that gives another clear signal as to what to expect from the menu. The tables have that kind of gold brass finish that we see in a lot of industrial decorated places these days, but it fits with the theme and prevents the floral prints on the soft furnishings looking too ‘grandma’.

Ethereal green tiles cover the entire restaurant floor.

Our server comes back, takes a drink order for two Asahis, and explains how the menu works. I personally like it when an eaterie does this because there is nothing more upsetting than ordering what you think is a main meal only for it to be a sharing plate that will leave you hungry. Likewise, I’ve ordered in places where supposedly snacky dishes have arrived by the mountainful and regretted ordering more than one plate.

She describes the menu as ‘Asian tapas’ which I can totally get behind. The cuisine is described as Asian fusion as there’s a lot of influences from all over the continent in the flavours and ingredients, so I accept the lack of ‘dim sum’ used in the description she gave.

We order the Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Kimchi Mayonnaise, Fried Chicken Gyoza & Truffle Soy, Crispy Duck Bao with Hoisin & Five Spice, Scallops & Sticky Barbecue Pork Belly, Slow Cooked Pork Belly & Asian Barbecue Sauce, and Kimchi Egg Fried Rice (gasps for breath).

There are other things on the menu I would have loved to try including some sashimi dishes and an avocado tofu dish, but my partner hates fish so I had to sacrifice my happiness for his as usual. Plus we agreed I could have all the scallops and he could have all the pork belly as a compromise.

The server confirmed our order back to us and said it would arrive as it was cooked, which again I personally like. For a Thursday evening there was a pleasant buzz and it even got relatively busy when a larger, louder party made full use of the bar, but it was a noise level you can cope with and enough people around to prevent the place feeling cold.

First dishes to arrive were the gyoza and the baos. They both came in one ‘level’ of a bento box and looked good enough to eat… so we did. The gyoza was deep fried and pleasantly crisp, and though my partner enjoyed them massively, I felt they were too big. I’m used to gyoza being small but numerous in a portion, but these were about the same size as the baos and you had about five in the one portion. They tasted good but not particularly better than gyoza I’ve had before, and I’d consider this a safe, filling dish if you don’t know where to start.

The baos on the other hand were amazing. I love baos and I love crispy duck, so it was never not going to work out. There was a bit of a kick from the marinade and some chopped chilies sprinkled on top, but not so much as to overwhelm the rich sticky sauce the duck was coated in. The duck itself was indeed crispy but not tough, and the little pot of fragrant sauce with the fresh salad in the bao married together with it wonderfully.

About halfway through these dishes the buttermilk fried chicken came. I personally wouldn’t have ordered this, I never have high hopes for fried chicken and hate negotiating bones. But the chicken was cut into little manageable cubes and lightly coated in a well-seasoned batter so I was pleasantly surprised. The mayonnaise was another thing entirely…

It was fucking amazing. Kimchi mayonnaise, a little sweet, a little spicy, a little sour, smooth and creamy as you like and one hundred per cent addictive. I’m been very ‘meh’ about kimchi on its own in my experience and have only had the odd dish with kimchi as a noticeable ingredient, but what I would do to get my hands on this sauce again is nothing short of criminal.

It looks a little dubious. With it’s unassuming bright orange liquid form, you could think it’s some sort of American plastic cheese concoction, but I promise you it is nothing short of incredible.

While I was holding back the tears about how amazing this sauce was, our final dishes came. I could have done without the fried rice and it didn’t get finished, but my partner loves a side dish more than I do. It had quite a kick to it that caught the back of my throat once or twice, so if you are expecting Chinese-chippy egg fried rice I wouldn’t order this. The rice itself was more akin to a sticky rice texture but that was most likely the kimchi binding everything together.

My scallops looked perfectly done and had a little orange sauce (KIMCHI MAYONNAISE?! I HOPE SO!) dropped underneath each one of them. In between the three scallops there was a couple of cubes of pork belly that smelled incredible and looked well coated in a dark sticky sauce. Some crispy looking ribbons adorned the plate and I got stuck in.

Oh my god, this pork belly is utterly amazing. It falls off the little skewers it comes on and I confirmed the big portion of pork belly my partner had is just the same. The sauce is decadent and rich and goes well with the charred bits of meat you get with the crispy top of a pork belly portion. The scallops were really good and went very well with the pork, a surf ‘n’ turf combo that I would want to see on a menu again. The crispy ribbons didn’t add all that much to the dish if I had to be critical, but they were little shards of crackling… who doesn’t enjoy them?

We scarfed it all and sat back satisfied. This was a good meal, a very good meal. Service was quick, attentive (to a fault almost if you don’t like a fuss) and we were even treated to a little complimentary cheesecake type thing to wish us both a happy birthday (yes me and my boyfriend have the same birthday, do not get me started). The portions are perfect, save for the gyoza, so after our little birthday sweet we didn’t really feel we needed a dessert, however we did order some sake and a cocktail.

I absolutely do not know enough about sake to review it properly, it was my first time trying it and I thought it was fine, however upon a little research I’m not sure whether it was actually supposed to be served warm to us. I know it’s a popular way to finish a meal, warm sake, but this particular sake seemed to widely be advised as ideal at room temperature. But no harm, no foul, it was a cosy way to end a meal and I know I don’t hate sake now which was the end goal of that exploration anyway.

All in all, I would recommend Ivy Asia in Spinningfields. The chefs and servers are very competent, the dishes are different and delicious, and the price isn’t actually as painful as we thought. It was just under £150 including a service charge, and that was for all the dishes mentioned above, two beers each, two sakes, two cocktails and two freebie mini desserts.

I look forward to going back when a special occasion calls for it and trying out the rest of the menu as well as some of the more fanciful cocktails on offer. Until then I am more than content with my jacket potato from the local caff and going down the pub for a roast on a wintry Sunday for under a tenner.

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