Online entertainment during the pandemic: comedy, quizzes, classes and more!

Click here for more information on staying mentally healthy at the moment.

In these worrying times it can be difficult to take our mind off the current situation, particularly without the opportunity to access usual entertainment, like popping into a museum or going to the cinema. However, in response to the pandemic many celebrities and creative minds have turned to the internet, to keep us entertained while we’re stuck at home. If you know where to look, there is a huge amount of material online, from exercise videos, to live stand up and pub quizzes. Many are free, or raise money for charity. We have compiled a number of these here:

Dance lessons with Oti Mabuse and Marius Lepure

Stay fit and learn a new a new talent with these dance lessons from strictly professional Oti.

The Covid Arms

A weekly live-streamed comedy show. Every Saturday at 7pm. Tickets cost £2, with money going to the performers and The Trussell Trust.

Jay’s Virtual Pub Quiz

If you’re missing your local pub quiz, there are quizzes nearly every day of the week to be found. Every Thursday and Saturday, a general pub quiz is hosted live on YouTube from 8pm. On Fridays there is a guest host and there are shorter themed quizzes on other days. Watch live or find a backlog on YouTube. If you’d rather curate your own pub quiz to test friends and family at home or over Zoom, there have been a huge amount of questions posted online recently.

COVID-19 and Lung Disease

The European Lung Foundation has produced a useful Q and A session, to answer all of your questions about COVID-19 and existing lung conditions:

There is also a series of videos about COVID-19 in various patients produced by the European Respiratory Society – these are aimed at experts but may be interesting/of use to patients

Fungal spore and air quality forecasts

Good air quality is important for everyone’s health. However, those with lung conditions, such as aspergillosis and asthma, may be more vulnerable to the effects of poor air than others. Airborne pollutants and allergens are found both indoors and outdoors, and can irritate our lungs and exacerbate existing conditions. It can be useful, therefore, to know when and where these irritants are at their most harmful concentrations ⁠— this can allow us to understand, avoid and prevent any harmful air conditions that may be affecting our health. Here we have compiled a selection of air quality forecasts and information:

Fungal Spores

Fungal spores are microscopic particles responsible for the reproduction of fungi. We inhale huge numbers of these particles in each breath ⁠— for most people, this doesn’t affect their health. However, some individuals, including aspergillosis patients, are more susceptible to allergic reactions and infections from mould spores. It can therefore be useful to know when mould spores are at their highest concentrations, in order to reduce exposure to them. We are currently entering peak spore season for most moulds (June – August). Peak spore season coincides with hayfever season, and allergies to pollen and spores carry similar symptoms (runny nose, sore eyes, rashes). Therefore, it is often difficult to distinguish between these conditions, and medical tests may be necessary.

The National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at the University of Worcester has produced a number of helpful calendars, showing the monthly spore count averages over a period of 5 years. They have also compiled useful information on the allergenicity of each spore type and where each mould prefers to grow. This allows those at risk to avoid areas where the spore concentration is potentially very high. The information for Aspergillus/Penicillium spp. is copied below:


The year starts with a high risk for these types with a total monthly average of 1,333 (per m3) spores in January and 1,215 in February. Spores continue to be airborne during Spring and early Summer but possibly below the levels needed to trigger symptoms. From mid-August the risk starts to rise again and people often report symptoms during warm, humid conditions in late August, September and October, with the peak reaching an average of 1,950 spores in October. Although the spore levels continue to be high during November and December, few people report symptoms, so it is likely that the types occurring during these months are less allergenic.

Habitat / Substrates:

microscopic view of fungal spores in small round particles

There are many species of Aspergillus and Penicillium, which live on a wide range of substrates. The spores can be very prevalent during the peak periods, triggering a range of respiratory problems. The spores are particularly prevalent in wooded areas, compost heaps, rotting wood chips and bark mulch. Some species rot down pine needles, so conifer plantations should be avoided during Autumn. Penicillium chrysogenum is found widely in nature, occurs on indoor substrates and is the type used to produce the antibiotic penicillin. N.B. Houseplants can be sources of spores, particularly Aspergillus/Penicillium types.  If you’re keen to have houseplants, only have cacti, which require dry conditions, and ensure the soil surface is covered in grit.


Aspergillus and Penicillium spores are present in the air throughout the year but the main peak periods are late August to October and January to February.


High for some types, particularly A. fumigatus and P. chrysogenum. A. fumigatus is a major cause of aspergillosis (farmer’s lung).

For spore forecasts and information about other species:

For regular updates on pollen and spore counts:

Indoor air


Those self-isolating due to COVID-19 are spending almost all of their time at home. Therefore, indoor air quality is more of a concern than ever. Over the past ~50 years, our homes have become far more insulated. While this stops drafts and keeps our homes warmer, it also means than our living spaces are generally damper and less ventilated. This can provide ideal conditions for mould to grow and thrive. There are a number of small things that we can do to prevent mould and damp: these include drying laundry outside (if possible), fixing leaks and using lids when cooking. It is also important to identify and remove any mould in your living space, in order to prevent it from spreading. A selection of articles on indoor air quality and instructions for how to safely remove mould are listed below.

For more information:


pollution causes poor air quality

Air pollution is a significant health concern, especially for those living with existing lung conditions. This is a particular issue in urban areas, where the sources of pollutants are concentrated. Weather also influences levels of pollution, with stiller conditions often worsening the issue. It can therefore be useful to access pollution forecasts, so that high levels can be avoided, where possible.

Regularly-updated pollution forecasts for the UK and worldwide:


For further information on air quality:

Living with hyper-IgE syndrome and aspergillosis: patient video

The following content is reproduced from ERS


In the above video, Sandra Hicks summarises her experience with hyper-IgE syndrome (HIES), a primary immunodeficiency syndrome, and how living with this rare genetic condition and associated lung infections impacts her life. As a direct consequence of HIES and its effect on the immune cascade, Sandra concurrently manages chronic Aspergillus infection (aspergillosis), nontuberculous mycobacterial infection (Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare), bronchiectasis colonised with Pseudomonas and asthma. She discusses the effect this rare disease and infection burden have on her daily life, including the influence of other factors such as temperature, humidity and antimicrobial resistance.

Sandra conveys her hopes for clinicians treating others with similar disease profiles, including the impact of immunoglobulin treatment; early, accurate diagnosis of primary immunodeficiencies and fungal infections; and awareness of potential interactions between antifungals and other medication ( She also discusses the importance of comprehensive, timely communication within and between multidisciplinary teams. Finally, Sandra emphasises the value of support from allied healthcare professionals for people with chronic lung conditions.

Sandra has since returned to pulmonary rehabilitation classes. These provide great benefit, not just for people with COPD but also for those living with other lung conditions. Making this service widely accessible would improve management of chronic lung conditions and could even reduce associated healthcare costs.

Sandra Hicks is a co-founder of the Aspergillosis Trust, a patient-led group that aims to raise awareness of aspergillosis. Click here to visit the group’s website and find out more about their work. 

The New York Times on the dangers of mould

Those living with aspergillosis know all too well the risks associated with mould exposure. It can be difficult, however, to sort fact from horror story on the internet sometimes. Damp and mould in the home can be a serious issue, both for those with and without pre-existing illnesses — it is therefore very important to understand the risks and take measures to identify and prevent any sources of mould growth. The New York Times has written a very useful article, quoting Professor David Denning of the National Aspergillosis Centre, on the known health consequences of mouldy homes and the importance, and difficulty, of removing the fungus.

Read the article here:

Mold Can Make Your Family Sick. Here’s How to Get Rid of It.

cartoon of family living with mould in their home

For more advice:

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