Australia’s Second Wave Of COVID-19: What You Need To Know
On July 22, Victoria shocked the nation by recording 484 new cases of COVID-19. After nearly two weeks of strict Level 3 lockdown, the numbers are still seesawing without an end in sight. In NSW, Sydneysiders remain concerned about the growing numbers from several known clusters.
No one wants a second wave and more lockdowns. But it may be too late to avoid one. The best way to help ourselves and our family through this is to be as informed as possible about the unfolding situation.
This week, we are writing about the current state of play with the coronavirus health emergency. We are presenting the facts based on reliable media sources. We don’t intend to scare our community but we would like you to be informed about what is happening so you can take measures to protect your loved ones.
Australia’s second wave is different
The Sydney Morning Herald recently ran an interesting article that puts into perspective what is happening in Australia today. According to our experts, this second wave is distinctively different from the first. While the trajectory looks similar to that of Israel and Japan, it is important to note that this time around our infection rate is driven by community spread rather than returning overseas travellers.
Some experts interviewed in the article say we are the “victim of our initial success in flattening the curve”. During the first lockdown, Aussies followed the social distancing guidelines closely. The result was we succeeded in flattening the curve but unlike countries like Japan that did not impose strict social distancing rules, we were left with a large percentage of people who have not contacted the virus, recovered and have the antibodies. Instead, we have a large population who has no immunity against the virus and when the second wave occurred, more people in the community became infected.
In Melbourne, people forced into a second lockdown are less cooperative. Victoria’s Health Department recently released some shocking statistics about the pattern of behaviour that has contributed to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Government analysis showed that of the 3,810 cases reported between July 7 and July 21, 90% (or 9 in 10 people) did not self-isolate from the time they developed symptoms to the time they were tested. A further 50% did not obey instructions to self-isolate after they were tested and before they received their test results.
Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire started the first day of compulsory mask-wearing in public this morning. So far, people are adhering to the rules. It will be another 14-days before we can expect any real results.
What can Sydneysiders learn from Melbourne’s second wave?
Sydneysiders are naturally worried about Victorians crossing the border into NSW. Both state governments have imposed strict policing at the borders to prevent lawbreakers. Unfortunately, the world is full of callous people who will flagrantly break the law and that’s why we are still reading news reports about people who have tried to sneak across the border. Sydney parents can take some comfort in knowing that our law enforcement is on the watch and they are doing their best to catch every one of them.
Sydney is also on high alert and is watching the known outbreaks closely. The situation in NSW (at the time of print) is described as ‘stable’. Minister of Health – Greg Hunt has reassured the nation that the NSW government is engaging in a massive contact tracing programme that appears to be delivering the results they hoped. The government is optimistic that if Sydney authorities stay on course and not drop the eight ball, we should be able to prevent a situation like Melbourne’s.
But the coronavirus has proven to be elusive. There are still many things about this virus that even the best scientists in the world do not know. Anything can happen. The best thing for parents to do is to take the right preventive measures to keep our family and kids safe and healthy.
Here are three preventive measures you must practice today to keep yourself and your family safe:
1. Wear a mask
NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has already started advising Sydneysiders to wear a mask in public if they cannot social distance.
One of the world’s most reputable infectious disease authority – the CDC – has said that wearing a mask can protect you and others from COVID-19 transmission. Covering mouths and noses with filtering materials protects you in two ways:
It minimises you inhaling harmful pathogens and particulates.
It prevents you from spreading the virus to others (particularly, if you are asymptomatic i.e. not demonstrating any symptoms of the disease).
At the bare minimum, a simple scarf or home-made cloth mask is better than no mask when you are out in public. However, masks are not needed all the time. If you are driving in a car with your kids and family, you don’t need to put a mask on. In Victoria, people who are doing a strenuous exercise (like running or jogging) are not required to wear a mask although they must carry one with them and put it on as soon as they finish their exercise. Also, children under 12 years old are not required to wear a mask in public. The reasons are because the virus is not deadly to young children (except for a small percentage in the world) and there are few cases of young children transmitting the disease to adults. (NOTE: A one-year old was tested positive for COVID-19. There is also a worrying outbreak in a childcare centre in Victoria. Parents who are worried may want to keep their kids at home. Please check with your school or childcare centre if you are concerned about your child’s safety).
What many people are struggling with is how to wear a face-covering safely. If you are not doing it right, the mask is not going to protect you or your family. Instead, it could pose a risk to you.
Here are some things you must do when wearing a mask:
Put the mask on securely before you leave the home.
Don’t touch any part of your eyes, nose or mouth when you are wearing a mask in public.
Once it is on, it is on. Resist the temptation to adjust or play with it when you are out.
Remove the mask as soon as you are home. To remove a mask safely, unloop it taking special care not to touch the front of the mask.
If the mask is a single-use mask, throw it directly into the bin. If the mask is a reusable cloth mask, put it in the washing machine.
Disinfect your hands immediately after taking off your mask. Don’t touch any part of your face until you have disinfected or washed your hands.
To read more about masks, check out our special edition on ‘How to wear a face mask’ here.
2. Social distance
Social distancing works in preventing the coronavirus from spreading. Social distancing means less contact between you and others. According to our health department, COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person through direct close contact with a person who is infectious or within 24 hours of symptoms appearing. It can spread through droplets (from coughs or sneezes) or from touching surfaces that have been contaminated by the infectious person. Social distancing can also minimise the risk of infection from an asymptomatic person.
Here are some things you must know about social distancing:
The safe distance is 1.5 metres (that’s approximately 2 arms’ length. So, if you are out walking in the park and you see a jogger coming towards you, put 2 arms’ length between you and the person).
Social distancing includes self-isolating yourself or an unwell family member – especially if they demonstrate symptoms that are similar to COVID-19.
Social distancing when you are in a café means the table next to yours must not be occupied and tables must not be too close together either. Ideally, you should have 2 arms’ length on all sides unless you are sitting by a wall. If the distance does not look right to you, don’t go in.
Avoid visiting cafes or restaurants that do not have a COVID-Safe Plan in place. The current rule is that businesses can only allow 10 customers each time. If the place looks like it has more than this number, don’t go in.
Social distancing when you are in the supermarket means putting at least a trolley-length between you and the next shopper. Don’t be tempted to reach over someone else’s shoulder to grab the cereal. Wait for them to move away first. If they are not moving and you are in a rush, ask them politely to move out of the way for you.
Social distancing can also mean not exposing yourself longer than necessary. This could mean going to the supermarket during non-peak times and leaving the kids at home when you shop.
3. Practise hygiene
Now more than ever, we must up our hygiene game. Keep telling the kids to wash their hands. Make sure you have plenty of disinfectant at home and when you are out in public spaces.
Here are some things you can do:
Wash your hands with anti-bacterial wash as soon as you get home.
Wipe down all your groceries before you put them away.
Encourage the kids to continue with good personal hygiene habits.
Carry antibacterial wipes with you when you are out and use them to wipe down tables and chairs before you sit down.
Use your elbow to press lift buttons or pedestrian crossings.
Carry a packet of tissue paper with you to wipe your eyes or nose (if you have to) when you are out. Throw the tissue away immediately.
Use hand sanitisers on your hands if you have to touch your mask when you are outside (i.e. to get a drink of water, to wipe your eyes, nose, etc).
Wear disposable gloves if you are out shopping.To remove, peel the gloves away from your body. Do not touch the fingertips.
Regularly wipe down all hard surfaces in your home. You can use a store-bought all-purpose spray (Choose one that reads ‘Kills 99.9% bacteria).
An antibacterial spray must contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective.
To find out where to get a COVID-19 test go to the NSW Health Department website here.
If you have found this article useful, please share it with a friend or family member here.