Aug 11, 2020

Keeping on the straight and narrow during COVID-19, hard though that might be

Suddenly, the reality of the ongoing nature of the pandemic has been highlighted by the flare-up of COVID-19 in Victoria, and the threat of it in NSW. And by the increasingly stringent protective measures by the other states and territories, trying to keep safe.

Consequently, as responsible citizens, it has become incumbent on all of us to do all the right things as our personal contribution to stopping the spread. This includes following all the instructions set down by our governments, such as the lockdown procedures when they are in force, and – when we’re allowed to be out and about – keeping safe distance, and wearing masks if, where and when required. And getting tested and staying home at the slightest signs of possible symptoms. And then self-quarantining until the results come in, and beyond if they are positive. 

By now, none of this is new information, and many of us are frustrated by such infringements on our liberty. For many, too, there can be dire economic consequences, especially for those people in need and falling between the cracks of some form of government financial support (and in this regard, ignoring the plight of visitors on temporary visas is unconscionable; and – arguably – the responsibility for what they might be driven to do must be shared by the government).

So, tensions are riding high, and – for some – so too is the temptation to dodge the restrictions, for various reasons, some of which – economic, personal, familial – may well be understandable. Understanding any such risky behaviour is not, however, the same as accepting it. 

And I can  now say that with the insight of someone who was so tempted, just recently, to do the wrong thing, for love of family. A few weeks ago, we were all set to head off from Sydney to Canberra to spend several days with our daughter and family, on her birthday. And then, on the morning of the day of our departure, I woke up with a slightly sore throat, and congestion. Both undetectable to the observer. What to do? On the one hand, it was most likely a very mild cold which the Canberrans could decide whether or not they wanted to be exposed to. 

But, and it was an unsurmountable but, on the other hand – with those symptoms – there was also the slight chance that it could be that virus (which even our three-year-old grandson can now say flawlessly in full). And therefore the only responsible action, which I knew I had to take, was to immediately let the family know that the visit was off. And drive-through testing at Bondi was on.

Then, it was self-quarantining until the results, promised within 72 hours and more efficiently texted within 24, as being negative. But nonetheless with symptoms that left me feeling a bit sub-par for the next couple of weeks, meaning that the option of going down the following weekend was also off. And eventually, finally well (and glad that I hadn’t shared what turned out to be a fairly unpleasant though mild flu), we were all set to head down this weekend. 

Until, suddenly, with the new smattering and scattering of cases in NSW, the ACT started shutting its gates to New South Welsh folk, to let us know that for the time being we’re not welcome across the border….just in case: on the sensible basis of prevention trumping possible spread on its patch.

Depending on one’s point of view, hearing about what some people have done in such circumstances can appal us, or be looked on admiringly as protecting civil rights, or understandably as being driven by personal needs. 

For the greater good, however, there is only one option for action, both individually and population-wide, however slight the risk might seem to be: that is to take all the recommended steps and do whatever is needed to prevent COVID-19 from taking hold all over again.

So, for us, it’s back to continuing with all the long-distance ways of staying in touch, and appreciating the modern technologies that are helping to keep us close. 

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