Update for 16 April
When Can Australia Ease Restrictions?
“We are well ahead of where we thought we might be,” said ScoMo today. If Australia is doing so well in containing this virus, particularly compared to other countries with harsher lockdowns, why haven’t our restrictions lifted?
Patience, patience. Unfortunately it will be at least another 4 weeks before anything changes. In this unchartered territory, Australia cannot risk easing off too early or we may end up with enormous outbreaks of COVID-19 like Singapore did despite achieving a ‘gold standard’ of infection control.
Bottom line is, when restrictions ease, there will be outbreaks again. Australia needs to be in a position to immediately pounce on the virus wherever it pops up, and squash it completely. Today the National Cabinet released 3 benchmarks to inform the easing of restrictions. Simplified, these are:
- Test. Better than we’re doing now. Health systems need to be able spot the virus anywhere it rears its ugly head. More people need to be tested to ensure that we’re detecting everyone with the virus. South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria are already beginning a broader regime of testing – now including all those with any respiratory symptoms.
- Trace. The sleuthing to find the sources of each infection needs to increase to an industrial capability. Finding the mama virus will stop the babies. And apparently…there’s an app for that. Read on.
- Isolate. When any trace of the virus is found there needs to be a swift tackle and take-down. The outbreak area needs quick lockdown to ensure it doesn’t transmit further into the community. The recent Tasmanian response to the outbreak in its North West earned a gold star for this.
What Might ‘The Road Out’ Look Like?
For those of us who have been annoyed by the … let’s say over-enthusiastic … policing of current restrictions in various states, maybe there will be some relief. ScoMo advised that “… states and territories will be reviewing in the meantime where they have gone beyond [baseline restrictions].” The aim is to work on achieving the 3 benchmarks in the next 4 weeks.
The first restrictions to lift will be those that offer high value with low risk. Getting businesses back into operation will be the highest priority, as that will get more people back to work. Next priority will be getting kids back to school. The minister for education, Dan Tehan, suggested schools might be back in the next month. Social distancing and hygiene promotion are, however, going to be around until a vaccine is found.
In the immediate future – National Cabinet will be discussing an increase in elective surgeries this Tuesday.
Tracing – There’s an App for That
Imagine the detective work that would be eliminated if, on identifying a person who contracted COVID-19, health authorities could map every contact that person had for longer than 15 minutes, without relying on their memory.
A phone app could exponentially increase capacity to track the coronavirus’ movements. The app has had success in Singapore and is being considered for use in Australia. It would not be mandatory but would require engagement from a minimum of 40% of the population to be effective. Question is – would Australians accept this? Privacy issues are currently being looked at.
The Stats for Australia
- There have been 6,458 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and of those, 97% are mild cases.
- 63 people have died
- 3686 people have recovered
Hope Over Fear
New ideas to promote hope and a bit of cheer continue to emerge all over the globe.
- In Canada a cheerful hotline has been launched by a group of high school students, to target those who are lonely in self-isolation. Callers are entertained with recordings of stories, jokes, guided meditations and educational messages. The students plan to keep updating the content until social restrictions are over.
- In Britain, a 99-year-old war veteran started on a humble campaign to raise $1000 for the NHS by walking 10 laps a day with his wheelie walker, completing 25m-lengths of his garden. His efforts quickly escalated into a fundraiser that has already raised more than $10 million dollars. Captain Tom Moore committed to reach 100 laps by his 100th birthday on 30 April. Mission accomplished. Due to his success he has committed to pushing on with another 100 laps.
- In a block of flats in Lebanon, one resident had a birthday while in self-isolation. Not wanting their neighbour to celebrate alone, residents gathered on their balconies to sing happy birthday and watch him blow out the candles on the cake. Watch the video here.
Your Tip for Today
FIFA has launched a #BeActive campaign where world-famous football players from clubs across the world will encourage people to set aside their differences and remain healthy at home by keeping active.
The first of the FIFA videos promotes the recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity per day, and gives these ideas how:
- Taking online exercise classes
- Playing active video games
- Jumping rope
- Practising muscle strength and balance training
FIFA engaged Luke Anthony, the Clinical Director at GoPerform, an injury and performance centre based in Reading, England, for further ideas. With sport lovers going slowly insane at home, he said routines were important:
Having a routine can help prevent a slow decline of exercise and healthy eating whilst staying at home. Here are some things to include in an ideal day:
- Seven to eight hours’ sleep
- Exercise – running is the easiest way to get fit; it works everything
- Social interaction – call family and friends
- Study to keep the brain active – languages, playing music, reading a book
- Nutrition – make sure at least one meal a day is nutritious
- Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake
- Down time – do stuff you enjoy doing
What About You?
I’d love to hear your stories.
- Would you sign up for a nationwide app to help with tracking?
- How do you get your 30 minutes of physical activity each day?
Drop me a comment below.
Prime Minister Press Conference with Chief Medical Officer, Prof Brendan Murphy – 16 April
Prime Minister interview with Gareth Parker, 6PR – 15 April
Los Angeles Times – Singapore Outbreak – 14 April
SA Govt – Testing blitz – 15 April
Tasmanian Govt – Tasmania’s lockdown in the North West – 14 April
Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, on schools returning – 15 April
Joy4All hotline for lonely adults
British veteran raises millions
FIFA #BeActive campaign launched
Expert speaks on the importance of exercise: