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Roadmap to reopening

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Roadmap to reopening

 

Premier of NSW had given hope to NSW that reopening would be possible after mid-October for the fully vaccinated. The roadmap was queried by many in the past week.

Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria on 20 September (Sunday) revealed a detailed roadmap to reopen. It was expected that Victoria would reach the 70% fully vaccinated target on October 26 and there would be partial opening up. When the 80% fully vaccinated target is achieved on 5 November, Victoria will be opened to normal running under social distancing restrictions.

Compared to NSW, Victorians are adopting a more conservative approach. The proposed roadmap was welcomed by many of the public. At least, the light at the long tunnel is visible. However, there are still obstacles for Victorians to go out of this lockdown.

First, from the current trend in vaccination, the 70% target will be achieved on schedule as we have already passed the 70% first dose vaccinated benchmark. There is no reason for the failure of this 70% target with the current ample supply of vaccines. However, to achieve the 80% target, it still needs more promotion. It is still possible that vaccine hesitancy will appear in future.

Second, even though the 80% target is achieved, the CALD communities should not be left behind in vaccination. CALD communities are slow in receiving up-to-date information. The government should organize more campaigns to promote vaccination to CALD communities in order that they will not become victims of the “pandemic for the unvaccinated”.

Third, there are worries that opening at the 80% target will still lead to a burst in the number of infected which in turn will result in a collapse of our hospital system. A 90% or higher target may be needed to avoid this to happen. In such a case, the government will need to develop more measures to persuade and convince those who still hesitated that vaccination is safe and essential in community health care. Public education then comes an important element to achieve this goal.

Fourth, restriction and other social distancing measures are still needed to keep the infected numbers down after reopening. The constant communication and promotion to the public about these measures need to be continued.

Australians need to understand that life after Covid is not the same as before.

 

Regards,

Raymond Chow

Publisher, BlessingCALD

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Message from the Publisher

Path of Rebuilding

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On Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that Melbourne would ease its restriction from 22 October. People can leave their homes without any reason to wherever to metropolitan Melbourne. Every household can have 10 visitors every day and 15 people can gather outside. Pubs, clubs and entertainment venues together with hairdressers and beauty salons can open with a restricted number of patrons. Weddings, funerals and religious gatherings will open with limited attendance. However, retail businesses and gyms will still have to wait and people are still required to work at home. In short, Melburnians are given some freedom but still need to wait for probably another 10 or more days to become normal or “Covid normal”.

This follows from the reopening of Sydney last week. Up to this moment, there is not a great surge in new cases in NSW. The federal and state governments now emphasize “living with the virus” which means Covid-19 will no longer be seen as a problem if the number of patients hospitalized is kept manageable. The message from the government is: Covid-19 is unavoidable but people will be saved from serious illness or death through full vaccination. And NSW and Victoria are both on the track to have a high vaccination rate.

 

 

Now we see the light near the end of this Covid-19 journey. However, great damages to society and everybody have been done. Small businesses are hit drastically. They were not supported well and it is not clear how many can survive to the end of this journey. Society is no longer the same and businesses are worried that how many of their customers will remain after reopening. Those businesses which have closed or workers who have lost their jobs in the past two years will face the challenge of how to rebuild.

New migrants who have few connections and many deprived of information will need special help from the governments to rebuild. The governments can build up better networks to help the society to rebuild after the Covid-19 pandemic. The need of the CALD communities cannot be neglected or forgotten.

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Who needs a booster now?

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Last Friday, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) announced a statement for the administering of the third dose as a booster to people who are severely immunocompromised. That was immediately circulated in social media as the need for a booster for everybody and about when that would happen. That is how misinformation and disinformation are produced which results in challenges in fighting the war with the Covid-19. Among the CALD communities with little English, the war is still more difficult to fight.
Clearly, ATAGI was making a statement on how to protect the severely immunocompromised people. There is a very clear definition of this group of people and nobody should mistake that as “everybody” unless their English is very poor. As earlier as on 23 September, ATAGI announced it will provide preliminary advice on the need and timing of additional doses in the broader population by the end of October. At this moment, they are still looking at the experiences of other countries.

In WeChat, we saw the mixing up of “boosting vaccinations” and “booster vaccinations” in many messages circulating. This is not unusual as most of the WeChat messages were translated messages produced by someone who knows little English. It is the translator who had misunderstood the message and began to propagate this as disinformation. This is an alarm to Australian governments that accurate and reliable information sources for CALD communities are in great need.
Yes, all Australian governments are “boosting vaccinations” to achieve the national plan of reopening. NSW has reopened today as over 70% of the 12+ population have received full vaccination. Within two weeks time, Victoria will follow suit. In order to be more effective in controlling the expected rise in infected cases jeopardizing our medical system, the more people vaccinated, the better the result. So “boosting vaccinations” is a priority.
But this is totally unrelated to the “booster vaccinations” announced by ATAGI for those who are unable to respond to vaccines effectively for various reasons. ATAGI estimated that about 500,000 people that is about 2% of the Australian population are eligible. Yes, the general public may need a booster but experts have indicated that it will be at least 9 months after the second dose that such a need may emerge.

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Diversified but should not be divided

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Australia is now practically divided into two parts in terms of its strategies towards Covid-19. ACT, NSW and Victoria will be moving towards 80% double vaccinated in a few weeks. According to the national plan, these states will not be in lockdown and the international border will be opened for fully vaccinated visitors. “Living with the virus” will be the new Covid-normal norm for this part of Australia.

On the other hand, in 6 weeks time, all other states will still have less than 70% of people being fully vaccinated and it will be another few months that these states will achieve the 80% fully vaccinated benchmark. This in fact means that this part of Australia will be closed to other Australians and also remains isolated from the international world.

The federal government has no choice but to accept this as a reality as Prime Minister Morrison had indicated at an earlier time that we would ultimately be in the same stage even though not necessarily at the same time.

The path of facing the Covid-19 challenge is different for every country in the world and also different for every state in Australia. It is until now that we realize that states constituting Australia, though share a lot in common are so different among themselves. The society in Australia is also a very diversified one.

We have people coming from different countries settling in Australia especially after the 80s. CALD communities have become a significant part of Australia that cannot be neglected. In fighting the war with Covid-19, information has not been properly and fairly distributed into all CALD communities. As a result, some CALD communities have suffered more than others. It is time that Australia needs to address this important discrepancy.

Australia can no longer assume that we are a monoculture society. We are diversified and hence CALD communities needs should be addressed fairly. However, we are not divided. Instead, it is through supporting our common values and love for this country that we brought prosperity and richness to this country resulting in this treasured diversity.

 

Regards,

Raymond Chow

Publisher, BlessingCALD

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