Well, here we are in Victoria, Australia, once again in quite a strict lockdown with initially a 5km travel limit (lifting to 10 in the second week) and only 5 reasons to leave home (purchasing food and necessities, exercise, essential work, care visits only and medical appointments including, most importantly COVID vaccinations).
Once again the blame game is on in earnest and the finger pointing persists with rising levels of vitriol. But for all of that, I am pleased to report the vast majority of Victorians are being compliant, as we realize that the best – the only – thing to do in order to get on top of the virus is for people to do the right thing and isolate properly by staying home for this circuit-breaking lockdown.
Perhaps some complacency has crept in? Apart from no overseas travel, life had become incredibly normal, so normal that I suggest we all thought the worst was over. From here we would progress back to pre-COVID levels of normality, particularly as many COVID safe regulations seemed to be relaxing all around us. But, here we are in Victoria, locked down again because one person emerged from hotel quarantine in another state not realizing he was carrying the virus, despite multiple testing. Two questions emerge immediately. The first and more obvious one has to question the efficacy of the hotel quarantine process.
To date, about 21 cases have resulted from breaches of hotel quarantine across our nation. So, why can’t we get that fixed? Apart from the fact that no human endeavor or institution is perfect, it has become more than a little obvious that hotels are simply not made for quarantining large number of people, mostly due to complexities in air conditioning systems. Now we are beginning to understand just how easily and how many airborne particles can travel to the next person and how instantly that person can absorb such infecting airborne particles. This simply underscores the importance of more purpose-built facilities needing to be established as soon as possible.
So, why Victoria – again? Apart from ‘bad luck’ again in my observation, two issues have emerged. One is our density of living, particularly in and around Melbourne. I know all major cities have areas of people living in close proximity, but Melbourne is still expanding enormously from the central city through inner suburbs to outer suburbs and new growth areas such as where the person from interstate resides. And yes, we love to gather in large crowds for big events like football matches, concerts, theatrical productions, cafes and shopping malls. Obviously mask-wearing should have persisted for much longer than it did, though that is still a requirement on public transport, in hire cars and of course care homes, medical clinics and hospitals. So, please keep a mask in your pocket at all times.
The other issue that has unwittingly facilitated the spread of the virus is the geographical spread of our city and its easy accessibility. An extensive road and freeway system plus public transport networks link us so well, that Melbournians are well used to commuting vast distances and as I have alluded to, gathering in large groups. Yes, you could make the same argument for other major cities such as Sydney and Brisbane, but here in Melbourne these factors seem to have played into the hands of the person arriving from the required interstate hotel quarantine period and traveling extensively around Melbourne before anyone became aware of a positive presence of the virus.
And of course, winter is upon us and colder temperatures spawn winter ills such as influenza as well as the new variants of COVID 19. So, what can we do? All of the above is not new, not welcome and threatens to turn 2021 into another 2020. Therefore, I am pleading with Christians, indeed, people everywhere to think about others and once again follow these simple guidelines, whether you are living in a lockdown situation or not… please. Remember that the pandemic is NOT over yet and will not be over until we all work together to combat this global occurrence. So;
- Consider getting vaccinated
- Wear a mask in public when and where required
- Check into venues via your state’s QR code, wherever you go
- Maintain person hygiene
- Physically distance where possible
- Get tested whenever you experience symptoms AND
- Pray, please please please pray for all governments and leaders, federal, state and local, plus all medical officers. Ask God for His grace in bringing these people together to work co-operatively and constructively for the well-being and safety of people everywhere.
In closing, it seems I need to remind folks of the importance of Paul’s words in his letter to Titus; “Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. (here, I could insert medical, couldn’t I?) They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. (Titus 3:1-2)”
Glynis Dickins has ministered in churches across the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Living through isolation with her husband Richard, she spends time reading, writing, knitting and walking their much loved chocolate lab x pointer doggie, Boomer.