DIGEST

COVID-19 Informer: Let's not make complacency our greatest enemy

Bathers Way, Newcastle on Easter Sunday
Bathers Way, Newcastle on Easter Sunday

Nearly all of my family live in Britain. Each morning I wake up to find a sea of notifications on my phone from the BBC, The Mirror, The Telegraph, The Guardian. The alerts have become grimmer and grimmer.

First it was scores have died, then hundreds, then 500 deaths a night, then it was closer to 1,000. Last night the number was smaller but still difficult to digest - 717 died. And another 92 COVID-19 new outbreaks have led to fears for the worst in the coming days.

In Australia we're in a good place as far as numbers are concerned. Without wanting to diminish those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 over the last few weeks, in the wider context, we've been relatively fortunate.

We have reached a tipping point where more than 50 per cent of infected people have now recovered and only 46 new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours.

While we enjoy a mild autumn in isolation, it's difficult to fathom what is happening in Britain. Or what happened first in China and then Italy, Spain, France. While the US is just another level of blowing the mind.

Rationalising and understanding how COVID-19 is playing out around the world is important. Not only because it helps us to prepare for what still may arrive on our shores, but because it is our nature to find empathy for human suffering. Without understanding, how can we have empathy and how can we build the way forward?

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told how for 48 hours things were touch and go while he was in ICU for COVID-19. He explained how two nurses stood by his side through those dark hours providing the care he needed to help his body survive. These nurses, Luis and Jenny, are among thousands of health care workers around the world who are there for patients on the brink when their family cannot be.

In Sheffield half the residents of a care home have coronavirus. For many the choice is die in hospital or 'stay here' with the same outcome. Again, care workers and nurses are the only people by their sides.

In Newcastle Upon Tyne a 29-year-old nurse died from COVID-19 at home. Alone.

In Australia the Easter weekend felt like a mark in the sand. We've learnt the new social rules. The anxiety has lifted for many states (we'll talk about Tasmania in this evening's digest) as the numbers feel like they are coming under control and our minds are turning to a way out.

In France, where close to 15,000 people have died President Macron has extended restrictions but hopes that they will progressively open schools and creches from mid-may. In Spain non essential workers are returning to work, while in China a relaxing of social restrictions has seen 169 new cases, albeit brought in from overseas.

It's easy here for us to look to the future where restrictions could be lifted, where our children can return to school, where perhaps we take a trip back into the office. Our media are feverishly reporting every comment in this space, almost willing it to happen.

But perhaps our greatest enemy is complacency. Let's make sure that doesn't turn out to be the case.

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This story Let's not make complacency our greatest enemy first appeared on The Canberra Times.