This article was first published in Northern Star Weekly on 31 October 2022.
Written by Christopher Carter, CEO, NWMPHN
Recent changes to COVID-19 isolation rules and the scrapping of mask mandates in most places makes it feel that, at long last, the pandemic is over and we can all get back to normal.
But “normal” is different now. Some things have changed forever. That means we need to think and act a little differently to keep ourselves, our families and our community healthy.
Coronavirus case numbers are comparatively low at the moment, and most of us have received at least two COVID-19 vaccinations. However, it’s important to remember that many among us risk very poor outcomes if they fall sick from this virus.
These might be people you know, but mostly they will be people you’ve never met: friends or family members of your workmates, the guy who runs the corner shop, maybe the woman who drives you home in an Uber.
I imagine that, like me, you’d feel terrible if you discovered that you’d inadvertently passed the virus to someone and they ended up in hospital – or perhaps just couldn’t work for a week or two, making life really challenging for their family.
The good news is, though, if we just exercise a few little precautions in a few little settings, we can do a lot to keep our whole community safe.
Pretty much all of us over the past two years spent quite a bit of time wearing a mask and, to be honest, it wasn’t really that irritating.
If you’re going into a hospital or a doctor’s surgery or an aged care home, you still have to mask up. But it’s also really helpful to pop one on when you go to the shops, or inside a school, or a bus or a train. No one will tell you off if you don’t; it’s just a nice, considerate thing to do.
The same goes for social distancing. COVID-19 can travel on your breath, so standing back a bit from other people goes a long way to stop spreading it around.
Keeping up to date with your coronavirus vaccinations is a really important thing. Third and fourth doses are easily available, and free. There’s even a new one now, updated for the Omicron variant.
Of course, if you get sick, stay home – and if you can’t, then wear a mask at work and try to keep your distance!
It’ll be the holiday season soon, and from now on the shops will get busier and busier as people set out to buy gifts and food for family feasts. If we mask up, vax up and stand back a bit, we’ll be doing our best to make sure everyone – family and strangers alike – have a properly happy new year.