“Don’t panic”. There are echoes of Dad’s Army’s Corporal Jones as governments around the world struggle to give balanced advice to their citizens. On the one hand, the death rate from coronavirus is relatively low, more dangerous than seasonal flu, but much less deadly than other high profile outbreaks, such as Ebola, SARS and MERS. On the other, news reports are alarmist; it’s arrived in Wiltshire and Hampshire; a vaccine is at least a year away and if we all panic, stay at home and schools close, the economy and country will grind to a halt!

Not surprising that Monday’s advice from the government was to keep calm and carry on, with a hint that shortly those with mild flu-like symptoms will be asked to stay at home and isolate themselves for a week. Meanwhile public events go ahead and schools remain open. But the British public are a fickle lot. We buy a lottery ticket when we haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance of winning; we worry about flying when we’re more likely to be injured driving to and from the airport while supermarkets are cleared of toilet rolls, paracetamol and hand sanitisers (soap and water is just as effective…) as talismans to keep infection at bay. One interviewee told a journalist ‘All this panic buying; it’s ridiculous. We’ve just stocked up on a few toilet rolls and medicines…’

We laugh at Corporal Jones, but the thing that made Dad’s Army so funny, was that we were laughing at ourselves. My favourite catch phrase was Captain Mainwarings ‘I wonder who’d be the first to spot that one….’ after yet another blunder; I find myself using it repeatedly.

"There’s a large epidemic of coronavirus anxiety,” claimed Dr William Schaffner, a leading expert on preventative medicine and infectious disease. "I think people ought to take a deep breath and spend a little more time planning what to do if the coronavirus really came into their community and they had to undergo what we call social distancing, which is separating themselves from other people. If you do this now when you’re more calm, it works much better when you really have to apply it rather than planning in a more anxious moment later on.”

The best medical advice is to channel our anxious energy away from loo rolls and into doing things to prevent Coronavirus spreading. Wash your hands, particularly before eating, after using public transport or when entering somewhere where there may be vulnerable people.

And begin to set out your own plans for ‘social distancing’ that will reduce the risk of transmission and exposure; think where you will and won’t go; what’s essential in your life and what you can do without. Above all, follow Jones' advice – don’t panic…