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Coronavirus expert Anita: 'Our community has been marvellous'

Dr Anita Herdeiro: The Scalesceugh Villas co-founder has been called on for her expert advice by the BBC

You may have heard on radio or seen on TV recently, Dr Anita Herdeiro giving her expert help and advice on all things related to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Anita is co-founder of Scalesceugh Hall & Villas, and also a working GP, so is on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

She is vastly experienced in working in crisis situations, most notably working for the Red Cross in Sri Lanka during the devastating 2004 tsunami.

Anita has her own advice on what we should all be doing regarding coronavirus. But while doing her best to care for people with new and everyday medical issues, Anita is also offering vital help to the homeowning community at Scalesceugh Villas.



  • Scalesceugh community fights back against coronavirus

  • UPDATED Advice on measures to take against Covid-19

  • Dr Anita Herdeiro's story


'People are helping each other where possible'

To Anita's delight, she has witnessed a positive response to self-isolation guidelines at Scalesceugh, as summed up by homeowner Geoff Faux.

“It is not in the slightest bit depressing to be in self isolation here,” said Geoff, who is in his early 80s.

“We live in stunning grounds, not a block of apartments, so I can walk round at my leisure, keeping a safe distance from people but still enjoying the sound of the birds and the beautiful countryside.”

Anita says: “The Scalesceugh community has been marvellous. People are helping each other where possible and are only too willing to exchange their knowledge and skills to assist one another - from gardening to finance.

“It’s good for people’s mental health to get out into the fresh air and also keep in contact.

“At this time, many elderly people are concerned about increased loneliness and depression, but our homeowners at least seem not to be affected.”

Scalesceugh lawns: A replacement, spacious venue for a cancelled coffee morning

Getting round the restrictions

It’s exactly the kind of community Anita and husband Bruno wanted to create when they bought Scalesceugh Hall and its stunning grounds a few years ago, to develop it into unique, beautiful and practical homes for over-55s.

Anita adds: “It’s incredible. They had a coffee afternoon planned and that had to be cancelled because of the restrictions, but instead the homeowners have suggested that they have a lawn party instead.

“We have lovely, large lawns, so I have asked our gardener to help them get ready for this, as long as the weather allows.

“It was also heartening to hear our postman, who has got to know every member of the community, offering his own help during this period.

“He has offered to collect people’s parcels and drop them off, so that homeowners don’t have to travel to post offices or friends’ houses.

“It really is a very generous, caring community - and extended community - we have here.”

Anita has been ensuring that all measures are being taken to make life easier for homeowners during what is a very difficult period for all of us.

This includes buying in provisions, so that they don’t have to face the prospect of empty shelves in supermarkets.

Anita adds: “Remember that a lot of people can't use the internet, and elderly people won’t now have grandchildren to help them with this.

“So don't forget the village shop. You can usually ring your local store and they can tell you how much things are, and arrange deliveries to your doorstep.”

Coronavirus: 'It’s really important that we are all sensible and respectful'

Of course the greater picture involves Anita sharing vital information which is key to saving people’s lives.

She has been a regular expert for the BBC on Radio Cumbria and local television news.

Anita says: “It’s really important that we are all sensible and respectful to the vulnerable community.

“There are guidelines as to who is most vulnerable (see here) but they include the elderly, women who are pregnant and people undergoing chemotherapy, for example.

“We must all be aware of the importance of social distancing, and supporting vulnerable people.

“I also want to remind people that GPs are still there for you, to help with any medical problem.

“People should continue to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, and refrain from touching their faces and rubbing their eyes.”

What are the latest guidelines on Covid-19? (updated)

Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible

  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household

  • any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person

  • travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home

These four reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household - known as social distancing.

Handwashing and hygiene advice

The simplest of all the measures we have been asked to take, are still the most important. Here is the government guidance on keeping clean to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands more often - with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or use a hand sanitiser at home or at work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food;

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;

  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms;

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands;

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home.

What should you do if you develop symptoms of coronavirus?

  • If you live alone and you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.

  • If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.

Dr Anita Herdeiro’s story

Scalesceugh Hall & Villas co-founders Dr Anita and Bruno Herdeiro, when talking to The Cumberland News in 2018

This is taken from an article which appeared in The Cumberland News in 2018, when Anita and Bruno were still building the villas at Scalesceugh.

Anita spoke about some of her incredible experiences as a GP around the world, and how she has helped in times of crisis before…

In December 2004 Anita travelled to Colombo in Sri Lanka to work for the Red Cross. She had been there just a few days when the sea went out so far that fish were left floundering on the sand.

The tsunami which followed killed 230,000 people in 14 countries.

"I was a few roads in," recalls Anita. "I saw the water go out. I didn't see it come in. We just heard the screams.

"When you went out you could see bodies and destruction. I had family friends there. One was on a train. It got swept away by the tsunami. They died.

“To see bodies everywhere is pretty grim, even if you're a doctor.

"There was just complete chaos. You go into a mode of just having to get on with it: try and organise.

"The whole world wanted to help. They were sending people from all over the globe. If this is not co-ordinated it becomes a complete mess.

“The Red Cross worked with the government and co-ordinated the NGOs [non-governmental organisations, such as charities]. I ended up staying for three months."

An earlier formative experience came 20 years ago when Anita was in her late teens.

"I'm Bengali by background. My family are from Calcutta. I was visiting family.

“Mother Teresa had come back to Calcutta, working with children who were traumatised.

"My cousin said 'Let's just pop by.' The sisters who worked at her charity said 'She's upstairs. Would you like to meet her?'

"When I said to Mother Teresa 'I work with children. I'm a doctor', she said 'Would you work with us? Can you spare any time?' So I did.

"I was meant to be on holiday. I ended up staying longer. She said 'Continue in medicine. The point of what you do is your ability to help and change anything that you can. That's what power really is.'

“That was four or five days before she passed away."

Full story here


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