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Challenging Issues

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In the years 2020 and 2021, a total of 2239 Australians died in Covid. From 2022 until 1 May, a total of 5011 died even though the death rate is much lower as Omicron has dramatically exploded the number of infected cases. So, we have accustomed to less severe pandemic deaths with most Australians vaccinated but gaining more and more infections leading to herd immunity. And society is going back to normal with masks and all the restrictions go in our daily lives.

It is sad to see the continued rise in the number of deaths in Covid with many of them being unvaccinated. The Australian government and the whole world are starting to forget Covid since it is practically impossible for people to continue putting attention to the decreased death rate in a vaccinated society. We see that the tracing of contacts and isolation for close contacts are now history. Lives in Australia are starting to become normal.

But we must still be attentive.

Bill Gates and other leaders warned that greater disasters would still be possible if we keep on neglecting our environment. More research and effort to improve health conditions around the world should be a priority. We have spent too much on getting the fastest broadband or virtual reality without looking at how to improve our existing issues with nature. We care too little about infectious disease, climate change, and poverty around the world.

Yes, Covid is now more settled in Australia. However, there is a great proportion of the world still unvaccinated. Poort countries that cannot afford vaccines are still waiting for donations from rich countries to support their fighting against Covid.

Misinformation about vaccination is another challenge. The battle with Covid-19 is also an information war that we need to fight against. Too many people should not have lost their lives if they have been well informed.

It is time for Australia and the world to face these challenging issues.

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Message from the Publisher

Freedom has a Price

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It is quite clear that with booster vaccinations and the Northern hemisphere entering summer, the Covid-19 infection in Asia, Europe and America is subdued. Australians on the other hand are trying to go back to normal leaving Covid-19 in the past, have greater movement and practically no restriction and slackening of public protective measures, together with the coming of winter, is seeing a surge in infected cases. Last week, we recorded the highest per capita infection in the whole world.

Epidemiologists warned that the Covid virus is still active in Australia. The recent increase in the number of Covid deaths is alarming and reminds society that freedom has a price. Those aged and infected still were dying, even though they might have been vaccinated. Those over 65, they should prepare for the winter by taking the fourth dose of the Covid vaccine together with the flu vaccine to give the greatest protection.

Yes, we do not want restrictions in our daily lives Our high vaccination rate together with the mild symptom of Omicron has made people complacent. Some will fail to observe the routine protective measures including wearing masks in high-risk areas or use of sanitisers in public areas. We have forgotten that over 4000 Covid deaths have happened in the first four months of 2022 which was more than the total Covid deaths in 2020 and 2021 together. The message is very clear: Covid threat is still there.

The government should continue to promote public health and protection among the communities. Wearing a mask should not be discriminated against. We should respect others’ choice of wearing masks. There may be family members who are severely immunocompromised and cannot be protected by vaccines. Many people reported that they are stigmatised for wearing a mask in a public area. This is not acceptable.

We want more freedom but to protect others in society, we should be up-to-date vaccinated and have appropriate protective measures when needed to protect others.

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Message from the Publisher

Learning about the symptoms of Covid

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The number of infected cases in Australia is gradually decreasing and the governments are considering further easing quarantine rules for close contacts. Cruise ships are prepared to start again by the end of May, while tourists, students and workers are coming back. We hope that Australia with its high vaccination rate will survive even with the various subvariants of the virus.

Judging from the people infected, hospitalized and died from Covid-19, the government has indicated that there is no immediate plan to introduce the fourth dose of the vaccine for all Australians. This is a good sign that full vaccination with 3 doses may give protection for people for some time. With the weak severity of the Omicron, Australians can focus more on the rebuilding of the society and businesses, as many small businesses have suffered a lot during the long lockdown in the past two years.

However, we do need to keep remembering that a new protocol needs to be followed as the virus is clearly still active in the community. Every day, we heard from friends and people surrounding us that they are infected, finally. Though the symptoms are mild and many of them recovered in a week or so by themselves, we still need to learn about the daily measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Many are still unaware of the vaccine policy and have little knowledge about the severity of variants.

One thing everybody can do to help to prevent the spread of the virus is to note the symptoms and what the responses should be in case one is infected. With full vaccination, personal isolation for seven days when infected is the mandated rule. The severity of the present Omicron variant is limited. There should not be fear. The isolation policy for close contacts is under review and may change soon. Australians should be aware of all this to going through the “Living with Covid” phase of the pandemic.

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Message from the Publisher

Recovery at Covid-Normal society

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The US has approved the use of a second booster for people aged over 50 while many European countries start to vaccinate those aged 60 for the fourth dose. In Australia, we start to vaccinate those at high risk including those aged over 65, aboriginals over 50, and disability residents together with those who are immunocompromised. The widespread of BA.2 Omicron variants makes greater protection of the vulnerable ones are the priority.

It is now clear that we have reached a plateau in our vaccination program with about 94% receiving 2 doses but only 66%of 12+ having three doses. Clearly, the mild symptoms of contracting Omicron discouraged many to get their third dose. As a result, the number of people infected is still increasing at over 50,000 a day with average deaths per day in the 30s. Society is going back to normal except that we still have certain isolation rules for being infected and close contact.

This is the Covid Normal we are now having.

People believe that it getting infected may not be avoidable but getting vaccinated will protect many from getting seriously ill. Masks are still widely used by many until the infection number goes down. Close to 18% of the population now have antibodies. It is hoped that more research in finding the cure for Covid together with more vaccinations will help us to live a normal life.

It now leaves the government to provide a greater effort in educating the public about what we have learned about Covid, especially how we can have greater protection for ourselves through various measures.

One thing the state governments are doing right is that the isolation rules are not yet to be relaxed. On the other hand, more support to keep up with the systematic testing and public hygiene policies should be developed to help the smooth running of society.

Recovery is on its way, but we need to be cautious.

 

Raymond Chow

Publisher, Blessing CALD

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