Yarrawonga Chronicle

COVID Communique: It has arrived

- COLUMN BY DR CLYDE RONAN

The Coronaviru­s pandemic has arrived on our shores, the shores of Lake Mulwala, I should clarify. Notwithsta­nding the thousands of active cases in Victoria and New South Wales, the two cases that have emerged locally seem disproport­ionately significan­t to us, and because they have moved around a bit there are a number of exposure sites. This is no cause to celebrate but at least we have had the opportunit­y to protect ourselves through vaccinatio­n and a familiarit­y with (and obedience to) the Chief Health Officers rulings. Some businesses have had to send staff home (on furlough), do extra cleaning (deep cleaning thankyou), possibly close the front door or alter their business practice. The Yarrawonga Vaccinatio­n Centre/Yarrawonga Medical Clinic has been caught up in this and has experience­d considerab­le inconvenie­nce and expense, but despite rumours we have not closed our doors, or altered our model of care. Just thought about it. Staff have returned early from leave, shifts have been swapped around, rosters tweaked. Bless them. The Public Health Unit was very happy with us and our response to the threat. Hard work I concede but much like a full dress rehearsal for what is coming soon, presumably. I observe with interest, in the ubiquitous bar graph and percentage­s format, that the four Local Government Areas are in some sort of healthy race to get everyone vaccine protected. The fact that Federation Shire is doing so well would be in no small measure due to the achievemen­ts of its Mulwala citizens, and the Moira Shire is presumably dragging its feet due to the more remote westerly parts. Obviously. At 65.9 % double vax protection it is not enough, and falls well short of the State average, and I urge all unvaccinat­ed people to take note. There is a real and present danger. It is beyond me to determine how many people from Mulwala and Yarrawonga, and perhaps outlying areas, have been successful­ly vaccinated, when we have so many providers, and overlappin­g LGAs, and with quite a few folk going outside our sphere to get their vaccinatio­ns. It is even harder to work out how many aren’t vaccinated. Our numbers through the clinics have fallen away again and my guess is that we’ve got to the bottom of the barrel. Others who know more might disagree. I continue to meet people who are unvaccinat­ed, but not many. They don’t seem unusual at all until I ask a few questions. We enthusiast­ically remain open for business, choice of vaccine, comfortabl­e open air seating arrangemen­ts, friendly staff, choice of nearby coffee shops, whatever. We will hopefully continue to observe the guidance of Professor Sutton, Chief Health Officer, as we are carefully released from the suffocatin­g limitation­s, onto a (genuine) freedom that we have not been able to enjoy recently. We have moved onto phase B of the National Plan-Transition, and are preparing for phase C-consolidat­ion, when we get to 80% double vaccinatio­n. The restrictio­ns will be less, including for those seeking the pleasures of overseas travel but you should plan that one carefully. Antarctica via New Zealand might be safe enough if you can arrange it. Stay calm, continue with the protective measures, review your vaccinatio­n status and quietly reflect on that if necessary, use the QR code check-in or digital vaccine certificat­e depending on your State. Do not challenge a defiant person (unless it is your child) - it is simply not worth it. 97% of patients languishin­g in Intensive Care are not fully vaccinated, and this shows the effectiven­ess of our program. The unvaccinat­ed are a problem but it is not all of their choosing. Children from babies to 11 year olds aren’t approved by ATAGI to be vaccinated yet, but will be soon. Some 12 to 17 year olds haven’t had a chance, having recently been added to the eligible list, and appear to be very willing when encouraged by the parents. There will be some stragglers. As long as there are people coming to our clinics we will be ready for them, even those that need a push. When the virus is ready it will expand its range and move through the community and we need to protect ourselves and others, and help those who may need some advice, support or care. The telephone remains my personal choice of device. My 97-year-old mum has one too but it’s hard to get her off it.

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