Don’t ease up on safety

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - Coronaviru­s Pandemic - By DR RACHEL JAMES

We have flat­tened the curve, now what? June is look­ing to be a good month. We have toi­let pa­per, flour and cans of tomato back in the su­per­mar­ket, we are now al­lowed to travel re­gion­ally, we can start to gather in small groups again and kids are go­ing back to school! Life may start to look some-what nor­mal again.

These are all great things and be­lieve me we all want to see our friends and fam­i­lies again but we have to go slow.

There is con­cern with Coro­n­avirus still be­ing in the Aus­tralian com­mu­nity and no vac­ci­na­tion in sight, re­duc­ing re­stric­tions will lead to a resur­gence, a sec­ond wave in in­fec­tions.

Aus­tralia has not elim­i­nated Coro­n­avirus, we just have it very well con­trolled. Kinda like a dry grem­lin, for those old enough to re­mem­ber the film.

The most im­por­tant sta­tis­ti­cal mea­sure now in our fight against Coro­n­avirus is the growth fac­tor.

If it is equal to one, it means one per­son who has been in­fected with Coro­n­avirus will pass it on to one other per­son, if it is two it means a per­son in­fected will pass it onto two peo­ple.

It is easy to see the more one per­son can pass on the dis­ease, the faster the virus spreads. We want this num­ber below one in or­der to con­trol the spread of Coro­n­avirus.

This means not ev­ery­one in­fected will pass on the virus to an­other, stop­ping the spread in its track.

Cur­rently we are 0.94, which is very good and in­di­cates so­cial iso­la­tion and dis­tanc­ing mea­sure have been work­ing.

At the height of the cri­sis it was 1.28, just to give an idea of what small mar­gins we are talk­ing about.

How do we keep this num­ber low while try­ing to live a some­what nor­mal ex­is­tence and sup­port our lo­cal busi­nesses?

● So­cial dis­tance

● Do not bun­dle so­cial events to­gether

● Down­load the COVID app if your phone has the abil­ity

● If un­well, get tested and stay at home We need to con­tinue to so­cial dis­tance when we are out in town, even if they are your best friend, we need to keep 1.5m away.

Rather than at­tend ev­ery shop in one day, try to go to one to two shops per day.

When trav­el­ling, only go to one town­ship rather than sev­eral in a row.

And when catch­ing up with friends try to catch up with a few peo­ple each few days rather than at­tempt­ing a marathon tour.

Re­mem­ber if you are feel­ing un­well or have a cough, sore throat, runny nose, fever or feel­ing short of breath please stay at home and get tested for Coro­n­avirus.

This in­cludes go­ing to work. The era of sol­dier­ing on while un­well is over. If you or a fam­ily mem­ber is un­well take pre­cau­tions and stay at home.

If you are plan­ning on trav­el­ling and see­ing fam­ily and friends it is im­por­tant to down­load the COVID app.

The app will al­low for fast and ef­fi­cient con­tact trac­ing if you de­velop symp­toms.

Cur­rently con­tact trac­ing is done man­u­ally with an of­fi­cer talk­ing with you and go­ing through where you went in your day and who you saw, very labour in­ten­sive and not very ac­cu­rate.

The app gives us a more ro­bust sys­tem.

I was con­cerned at first be­cause I am very cau­tious of any­thing that col­lects my per­sonal data but I am pretty sure I have al­ready given away a huge amount of data by sign­ing up to Face­book and Google.

I knew that as a health pro­fes­sional, I would want my pa­tients to be no­ti­fied as soon as pos­si­ble if I de­vel­oped COVID and so I down­loaded the app.

Thus far I haven’t no­ticed any changes in my bat­tery life or stor­age space.

If we don’t have a vac­cine, we will need to fight this virus with tech­nol­ogy.

The eas­ing of re­stric­tions are for those who are other­wise fit and well.

Those who have med­i­cal con­di­tions af­fect­ing their health, those in our town who are over the age of 70 and those who live in res­i­den­tial care are still very vul­ner­a­ble and need to take ex­tra pre­cau­tions.

So if you want to visit your Nan, make sure you are well and make sure you don’t visit mul­ti­ple other peo­ple on the same day.

Be kind to one an­other and considerat­e. If a friend asks you not to come to their house for a visit, re­spect their de­ci­sion.

They may have med­i­cal is­sues you are not aware of or take care of vul­ner­a­ble rel­a­tives.

There will be a lot of peo­ple in town still need­ing to prac­tice so­cial iso­la­tion even though re­stric­tions for many of us are eas­ing.

After such a long hia­tus from our usual lives and the neg­a­tive fi­nan­cial im­pacts this virus is hav­ing on our daily lives it can be very nor­mal to feel over­whelmed about leav­ing the safety of the house.

It’s im­por­tant to know you don’t have to get back to nor­mal straight away. You may even find a new nor­mal. But if you are start­ing to feel de­pressed or anx­ious with all the changes around us, it is im­por­tant to book an ap­point­ment with your GP or call Be­yond Blue to have a chat.

On a last note, I think on be­half of all the health­care pro­fes­sions in town we would like to say a very big thank you to all res­i­dents. Not only have you kept your­selves safe, you have also kept us safe. Thank you.

● Dr Rachel James (pic­tured) is a GP based in De­niliquin.

■ Any­one re­quir­ing cri­sis sup­port can con­tact NSW Men­tal Health Line on 1800 011 511, Life­line Aus­tralia on 13 11 14, Be­yond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.

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