COVID-19 complacency – Is it time to regroup?

COVID-19 complacency

COVID-19 complacency has overtaken some of Western Australia. How could we so quickly forget our lessons learnt about hygiene and social distancing? I’m disappointed and edgy because I think we’ve become soft inside our hard borders.

I’ve turned into a grumpy old woman, anxious for my own and other people’s safety.

We’ve been told it’s only a matter of time before the virus becomes active again. Victoria’s second wave hit hard. COVID-19 complacency is partly to blame. New South Wales struggles to contain an outbreak. New Zealand shows how vulnerable a country can be, even after 100 days free of the disease.

Each outbreak began with one infected individual. The disease spread because individuals and groups had forgotten to protect themselves and others from spreading the sneaky and opportunistic virus.

We know how to protect each other. But we seem fatigued by the good-natured vigilance that worked earlier.

Most of us feel gratitude that we live in a safe place. We thank our government and health systems. While they did a good job, individually we also did our part to prevent the virus spreading. We can thank each other.

There’s no known community transmission of the virus in WA (16 August 2020). Today’s tally, five active cases of COVID-19, all arrived by plane from overseas. Isolated in quarantine hotels, they’ll stay there until their tests show negative results.

WA’s hard borders

WA's hard borders

Overwhelmingly, Western Australians approve of the hard borders that surround our enormous state. We condone police patrols at the the entry points from other parts of Australia.

A handful of exemptions ensure that restrictions apply to most non-essential journeys into WA. We agree that people without a valid reason to enter WA find themselves turned back at the checkpoints.

Police escort passengers who arrive by plane (now only Australians returning from other countries) straight into closely supervised and patrolled hotel quarantine. These travellers are confined for at least fourteen days and undergo two COVID-19 tests.

We’re proud and happy to live in a state that has managed the pandemic so well. So far. We want to maintain our present situation.

In spite of our desire to stay safe, we’re tired of social distancing. We long, naturally, for the touch of those we love also . We long to hug those we love – our children, grandchildren, friends. We’ve been separated for a long time and we are tired of the separation.

Australians shake hands with those we meet casually or for the first time. We can’t do that, either, and it is an effort to restrain ourselves.

Covid-19 complacency examples

Covid-19 complacency manifests everywhere. Here are a few examples.

  • Fewer people use the hand sanitiser provided when they go into shops and cafes.
  • Empty sanitiser dispensers in public places remain empty.
  • There’s less attention given to hand-washing techniques. Hands washed for shorter time.
  • Many photos in the media show people closer together than 1.5 metres (eg at football games, in restaurants, at protests, on the streets). Poor example from the media! If those people can do it, why can’t we?
  • Crowding and overcrowding. I noticed 14 mature people (surely not all from one household?) crowded around one inadequate table inside a small cafe. Staff seemed oblivious. They did not speak to them or remind them of the rules.
  • A group of eight twenty-somethings greeted each new arrival at a restaurant with hugs and kisses. The staff in this case showed dismay, but didn’t intervene.
  • Grandparents show photos on Facebook of themselves cuddling and kissing grandchildren.
  • Some women of my acquaintance visited a house where a child had been kept home from school, ‘sick with a cold’. They stayed for several hours. Kids get colds. I get that. But kids also contract and spread COVID-19.
  • Many people ask if others are social distancing. They say, ‘Are we hugging?’ instead of accepting that not making physical contact is the norm.
  • Subtle and not so subtle peer pressure towards hugging and handshaking makes some of us very uncomfortable. We feel mean when we say, ‘No’.

It’s up to all of us to act well and protect others.

Advice and rules

With Western Australia in Stage 4 lockdown, we enjoy enormous freedom within our hard borders. But the following government and health advice remains to protect yourself and others. No one wants to return to earlier stages of lockdown.

  • Maintain proper hand hygiene. Regularly wash hands with soap and warm water for twenty seconds (time to sing ‘Happy Birthday,’ remember?). If necessary, use high quality hand sanitiser. This should clearly state that the ingredients conform to the World Health Organisation standards.
  • Keep adequate distance (1.5 metres) between you and another person. That includes no hand-shaking, hugging, kissing of anyone outside your household.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and discard.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, do not go to work or school. Do not invite people into your home. Get tested. Isolate yourself until the results are back.

Thank you for reading this blog. I’m keen to protect everyone with whom I come in contact, and I know you are too.

Here are some other of my blogs about COVID-19

Jargon and slang – COVID-19 changed our language

COVID-19 and social isolation

Post isolation and mixed emotions

Join the Conversation

8 Comments

  1. You are blessed to live where you do. I live in the land of loonies, the state of Georgia in the U.S. We’ve had no national plan and no state plan for dealing with the virus and are still in the first wave after all these months. Georgia ranks number 5 in the highest number of cases among the 50 states. Many people here still believe the virus is a hoax. It is very scary.

    1. Dear Deb, I really understand how blessed we are, and grateful as well. My granddaughter and her husband and three small children returned home a month or so ago from Houston Texas. They spent fourteen days in hotel quarantine, and it was soooo good to see them after eighteen months. My granddaughter tells some horrific stories about things they heard and saw, and how isolated and anxious they felt. I suppose for some people, believing that the virus is a hoax might protect their mental health? Not sure about that!

      I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

      Stay safe. Be kind. xx

      1. Thank you. My husband (who is an invalid) and I just stay home except to buy groceries and pick up our prescriptions. So we are staying safe and well. I’m so glad you were able to see your granddaughter and her family. I know they must have had a very difficult time of it.

        1. I’m glad you sound so patient and resigned (in the very best way) to such prolonged isolation, Deb. It must be very difficult if your husband is an invalid. And yes, it is so lovely to have Claire and Bhen and the children home. They were isolated for five months. Bhen worked from home and my great-granddaughters aged 9 and 5 were home schooled.

          Look after yourself properly. Stay safe.

  2. I know what you mean, Maureen, everyone here seems to be getting more and more casual, even though we had a recent outbreak. I suppose it’s human nature; we’re not suited to maintaining vigilance over long periods of time. Unfortunately we need this vigilance to stay safe(r) at this point in time.
    I also wanted to let you know that for some reason your site hasn’t been letting me leave comments – I write them but they never appear. I finally figured out I can write them in WordPress Reader (I hope! If you see this it worked). Anyway I am continuing to read and enjoy your posts.
    Stay safe and keep well.
    xx

    1. Lovely to hear from you again, Fiona. Thank you for finding a solution to not being able to comment. I don’t know why WordPress doesn’t let you comment.

      It’s really hard to keep up something that doesn’t come naturally. Losing weight comes immediately to mind! But I want to keep myself and those I love safe, so feel determined to do the hard stuff, much as I want to hug and kiss everyone I meet. The peer pressure to let down my guard feels quite threatening and I feel anxious, which is not my usual mindset! xx

  3. I agree with you. I am still at home after five months because I do not trust other people.
    I think my family think I am a nagger, as time and time again I remind them to wash hands and keep their distance.

    Everyone is socialising more here because we are allowed, but from what I’ve seen, and some family included once they’ve had a couple of drinks they completely forget the basic rules.

    1. Yes! So glad to hear you also are a nagger, SueW! I’m tired of nagging and also of being considered neurotic about COVID-19. Our health department and the Premier of the State are warning we are one case, one slip up, from a further, much worse outbreak. But I’m prepared to keep my distance and my hands clean if it means I protect other people as well as myself and my husband.

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