Coronavirus Update 2 April
Relief for Childcare and Early Education
Good news if you’re an Australian who relies on childcare and early learning centres: today ScoMo announced another package of financial support, this time for you.
- It’s good news if you’re one of Australia’s 13,000 early education services, because you’ll receive funding that will help to keep the doors open at a time when enrolments are unpredictable. This funding complements the JobKeeper package made available yesterday. It will be calculated at 50% of the sector’s revenue, based on a number of factors.
- It’s good news if you’re a parent of a pre-schooler, because you may be eligible for free childcare if you are working, have lost your job, or if your children are vulnerable or disadvantaged. After-school care and vacation care are included.
- It’s good news for children, because they need familiarity and continuity at a time like this.
Parents are encouraged to re-engage with your childcare service if you had withdrawn. Speak to your early education centre for more details.
Private Hospitals Given a Lifeline to Remain Life-giving
When nonessential surgery was suspended last Wednesday, private and not for profit hospitals were stuck, because up to 70% of their revenue is generated through elective surgeries. However, once again private and public sectors have successfully worked together to strengthen Australia’s response to COVID-19.
In a deal with the Federal Government, Australia’s 657 private hospitals have offered up 34,000 beds, made ICU facilities available, provided essential medical equipment like ventilators, and sourced as many as 105,000 medical staff to help the fight.
In return, the Commonwealth has provided $1.3 billion to guarantee the survival of private hospitals during the period that elective surgery is cancelled.
It’s unbelievable, but in the fortnight after ScoMo banned nonessential international travel, 16,000 Australians flew out of Australia, with 3800 leaving in the last week of March. It’s like herding cats! Surely these could not have all been essential trips? Some are saying these travellers should foot the quarantine hotel bill themselves when they return.
Race for a Vaccine
Across the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is working with scientists on 20 different COVID-19 vaccines. Four vaccines are being developed in Australia, and our universities are calling for a national research strategy to prevent duplication. Clinical trials are already underway. That is super fast for this kind of work, but it is still expected to take at least 18 months before a workable vaccine can go to market.
As Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies program emphatically cautions:
- A bad vaccine is worse than a bad virus
- Most of the world’s population will need to be injected with the vaccine for it to be effective, so it has to be very carefully developed.
- Once we have a vaccine we need to ensure there is enough to distribute across the whole world, including to those who cannot afford it.
In the meantime, the Medical Research Future Fund has granted researchers more than $2.6 million to find a simpler test for the virus. The fund is simultaneously providing grants for researchers to develop treatments for COVID-19. These two tools are likely to materialise sooner than a vaccine.
- There have been 4,976 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia.
- 21 have died.
- More than 261,000 tests have been conducted across Australia. That makes us the first country to test as much as 1% of the population (ie: this is high!).
Hope Over Fear
- A growing movement of chalk drawings by children is empowering them to be agents of hope and positivity to their communities while keeping to social-distancing. The drawings foster hope, and a sense of the community caring about each other. Adults are also getting on board, with footpath trivia and notes of thanks outside Centrelink.
- WHO has just launched an interactive chatbot using Viber, to help pass along accurate information and fight misinformation. Subscription is free. Subscribers will learn how to protect themselves, and can test their knowledge to help bust coronavirus myths.
Join the WHO Viber service: https://vb.me/82e535
Your Tip for Today
What’s the difference between quarantine and self-isolation?
Quarantine: maybe you have it, maybe you don’t.
- Sorry! You need to isolate yourself for 14 days to wait and see, because you could spread the virus before you know you’re sick (the incubation stage).
- If you do become unwell, you’ll need to be tested.
- Either way – please, please, please complete the full 14 days of isolation.
- If you test positive for Covid-19, anyone that was in close contact with you will also have to go into quarantine because … maybe they have it, maybe they don’t. You get the picture.
Close contact is more than 15 minutes’ face to face contact or more than 2 hours in a room or enclosed space with you
Self-isolation: you have it – stay strictly away!
- You are still well enough be looked after at home. (Find the rules for self-isolation here.)
- You can only come out of self-isolation if all of the following apply:
- more than seven days since you became unwell
- at least two days with no fever
- at least one day of feeling better/having no symptoms
- two tests 24 hours apart that are both negative
See the difference?
What About You?
Tell me your story. I’d love to hear from you.
- Have you seen chalk drawings in your neighbourhood? What did you think?
- Have you been using childcare or early childhood services? How does the new support impact you?
- Are you in quarantine or self-isolation? Tell me your story.
I’m keen to see your comments below.
Prime Minister’s Media Release – 2 April 2020
Health Minister Greg Hunt Media Release – 31 March
Department of Health Stats – 2 April
The Guardian – Private Hospitals Face Closure – 28 March
ABC News – Private hospitals free up beds in deal with Federal Government – 31 March
Paul Murray (SkyNews) podcast 2 April 2020: PM in the AM
CNBC – 20 coronavirus vaccines in development – 20 March
ABC News – Chalk messages bringing hope
WHO Chatbot – 31 March
RACGP – News GP