Don’t ease up on safety
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.