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
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