28 December 2022

Whether you like it or not, we are now 'living with COVID'

| Ross Solly
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'Rapid Antigen Tests sold out' sign.

A lot’s changed in the past year. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

This time last year, I returned to Australia after eight years away. I was a passenger on one of the first planes allowed to land in the country after stultifying quarantine restrictions were finally lifted.

Despite screaming and shouting from the rest of the country, NSW decided enough was enough and it was time to join most of the rest of the world in opening its borders and allowing some form of normality to return to people’s lives after two years of the COVID-19 nightmare.

The ACT, albeit reluctantly, soon followed.

Only Western Australia, which had taken its border control to a whole different level, refused to give way, still blindly following a zero-COVID policy, which most experts knew was sheer folly, before moving the goalposts on its vaccine rules.

READ MORE Chief Health Officer wishes a COVID-safe Christmas and says changes are on their way

This Christmas, I returned to WA for the first time since before the pandemic.

I travelled on a plane where most passengers were not bothering to wear masks. Airports were packed and restaurants were full – life, on the surface, was back to normal.

Except, of course, life is still not normal.

COVID still exists, people are still getting sick and even dying. For older members of the community, and those with an underlying health condition, sitting around the Christmas table with family and friends still poses a risk.

But for most Australians, life has moved on. It’s taken the best part of 12 months, but there appears to be little appetite in the broader community for conversations about the pandemic.

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COVID barely makes the news anymore. There are one or two outlets that continue to do their best to remind people the pandemic is still going, and then the same people respond with concerns about the lack of mask-wearing and how the person on the bus next to them was coughing, but generally, it is yesterday’s news.

The first news story I heard when I arrived back in Australia was a report that someone on the Gold Coast had tested positive, and then the newsreader solemnly listed off places this person had visited.

As someone who had been living in London, where COVID was rampant but restrictions were few, it was quite bizarre. Roll on to the present day and Australia is now where the UK was 12 months ago.

We have been told that, eventually, we would have to learn to live with the virus. It’s not going to go away, certainly not in the short term, so best we adapt our lifestyle to deal with the likelihood we might catch it again and again.

As we head into 2023, Australia is at that stage.

Some workplaces are still insisting even close contacts should stay home. Surely this can’t continue for much longer. Sure, if your work involves regular contact with the elderly or with people with serious health issues, you should stay home.

But many employers are now happy for their employees to come to work even if they have COVID, as long as they feel up to it. The fact is that some people catch COVID and don’t even realise it. I barely knew I had it when I first caught it in January 2021.

So welcome to 2023. Many will not like it, but this is the new norm. We are living with COVID.

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Thank you for this article. Finally a newsagent that realises these restrictions cannot stop covid, but they cause large amounts of damage to both people’s mental health and the economy – and to those who think the economy doesn’t matter that much, well that’s why we’re in this cost-of-living crisis right now. People dying of hunger is what happens when the economy suffers.

Vousie, I’m sorry, but I disagree. Restrictions bought us and much of the world time for vaccinations to be manufactured and distributed. The alternative would have seen our hospital system (and consequently the economy as a whole) collapse.

COVID, in general, certainly has seen supply issues, but without slowing the spread, do you really think that supply chains would have been stronger?

Of course, simply blaming cost-of-living issues on COVID restrictions also ignores some pretty significant other causes.
The Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine has impacted world gas and fuel supplies and prices, plus the devastation caused to through floods that have destroyed homes, roads and

HiddenDragon7:10 pm 03 Jan 23

And like it or not, Covid has not finished with us yet – it is still a race between the virus and the best medical science the world can muster –

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/11/20/1137892932/monoclonal-antibodies-covid-treatment

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/12/30/covid-news-omicron-xbbpoint1point5-is-highly-immune-evasive-and-binds-better-to-cells.html

Yesterday’s back-flip by the federal government – much to the outrage of the Big Australia noise machine – to follow several other comparable countries in requiring pre-departure Covid tests by visitors from China is encouraging if it also means that there will be renewed focus in Australia on important measures such as vaccination with the latest vaccines and better access to the anti-viral medications which do still work.

There are some simple things government can do to keep Australians safe such as closing the borders to the Chinese. Can’t believe after 3 years we have learnt nothing and history is only repeating itself due to inaction from government. Only a matter of time before they bring in the new XBB variants into the country.

Living with Covid?

Better described as having our collective heads buried in the sand about it.

When you are immune suppressed the attitude is “be responsible for your own heath” when you are immune suppressed and you get Covid you are more contagious and contagious for longer so the attitude completely reverses to “be responsibe for everyone elses health”.

We are now in a situation where Covid has become endemic in the community and there is no real alternatives that don’t equally come with significant downsides to people’s health and wellbeing.

You only need to look at China right now to see what an alternative approach looks like in attempting to hold back the tide.

As for people being responsible for other’s health, I’m not sure what you are trying to say. All people are responsible for their own health whether they are immune compromised or not. How do you believe immune compromised people are now more responsible for everyone else’s health if they get Covid?

Hi Chewy14,

I’m not sure that “purplevh” has expressed their themselves clearly.

My take on it however is
that we are continually being told to take personal responsibility. That’s fine to a point. You can mask up, sanitisers and distance, but when others fail to do the same, their actions, which are beyond your control, put you at increased risk.

As someone with a serious medical condition, I’ve had 4 jabs and take personal responsibility pretty seriously, but I feel I’m in the minority.

I agree, we can’t live in a cocoon forever but fear that there will be countless more deaths because of apathy.

Kenbehrens, The point is that there will be more deaths no matter what.

For example, the world is already feeling the economic pain of the massive restrictions that were put on society over recent years. Whilst the impacts of that won’t directly kill people like the virus, they do lead to worse health outcomes and deaths over time.

Excess death rates are very high already, even if you take away Covid impacts. There is no “good” solution.

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