In­formed peo­ple can help stem this virus

Geelong Advertiser - - YOUR SAY -

FOR­GET any no­tion of a se­cond wave — in many re­spects Geelong is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its first real wave of COVID-19 cases.

The bulk of Geelong’s 73 con­firmed cases might have been recorded be­fore the end of April, but with the ma­jor­ity ei­ther com­ing from or linked to re­turned trav­ellers, the out­break felt wor­ry­ing but man­age­able and by early May we had no ac­tive cases.

The spike in re­cent days feels very dif­fer­ent. From Rip Curl in Torquay to Coles in Bel­mont, a child­care cen­tre in Ocean Grove to a man­u­fac­turer in North Geelong, COVID-19 has raised its ugly head in pop­u­lated ar­eas right across our re­gion this week.

And this time it is the dreaded com­mu­nity trans­mis­sion, rather than links to known cases or overseas ex­po­sure, that gives us the most cause for con­cern.

Con­sider, for ex­am­ple, the case of the Ocean Grove Boorai child­care cen­tre. How many chil­dren, fam­i­lies, work­ers, would have been ex­posed in re­cent days? And how many would they, in turn, have then ex­posed?

Is so­cial dis­tanc­ing in a child­care cen­tre some­thing that can even re­motely be en­forced among tod­dlers?

This is the power of this virus. Its trans­mis­sion is so quick and easy that those try­ing to trace the move­ments of Vic­to­ria’s surge in known cases are strug­gling to keep up.

Un­til there is a widely ac­ces­si­ble vac­cine, the onus to keep our­selves healthy rests largely on our own shoul­ders. The need to prac­tise so­cial dis­tanc­ing, hand hy­giene and to stay home if even slightly un­well, is as vi­tal as it has ever been.

But we also need help from the au­thor­i­ties. It is so much eas­ier to recog­nise if you are a threat to pub­lic health if you know whether you had been some­where that might have been ex­posed.

When Geelong’s first cases were re­vealed in March, the pub­lic health au­thor­i­ties gave de­tailed de­scrip­tions of the lo­ca­tions pos­si­bly ex­posed to the virus. The pub­lic were then able to as­sess their own level of risk and if they should iso­late or be tested.

This is no longer the case and this week’s re­ports of the pos­i­tive Rip Curl em­ployee, Coles worker and Incitec Pivot con­trac­tor were all re­vealed by Geelong Ad­ver­tiser jour­nal­ists, not the au­thor­i­ties.

While the con­tact trac­ing team are run off their feet, an easy way to im­me­di­ately re­duce risk would be to an­nounce lo­ca­tions where con­firmed cases had been. The bet­ter in­formed we are, the more able we will be to help keep our re­gion safe.

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