The current isolation and social distancing measures, put in place by our state and federal governments, are surrounded by concern, confusion, and very many questions. Chief among them: how long is this going to last for?
It is true that these measures are helping limit the spread of the virus; at the time of writing, the “curve” in Australia is already beginning to flatten, with the number of daily cases getting smaller and smaller. However, isolation cannot be the final solution for the virus, nor even a temporary one if it goes for too long. An extended national lockdown will have disastrous effects on the economy, businesses and peoples’ mental health.
But the restrictions can’t be lifted whenever we want; it’s all a matter of timing. If we stop the lockdown too early, the virus will spread rapidly (perhaps uncontrollably) and many people will die, but if we keep it going too long, unnecessary, unsustainable pressure will be placed on people, institutions and businesses until something eventually snaps.
How do we know when the right time to lift restrictions is?
The truth is, we don’t. While we can make some guesses as to what the appropriate action is, we don’t know enough about the virus, nor the expected behavior of people fresh out of lockdown, to decide when the isolation measures should end. Will people take the opportunity to resume life as normal, and go out in public, to restaurants, cinemas, and shops? Or will the anxiety around the virus be felt strongly enough that people will still limit their exposure to the outside world? We just don’t know.
So, what’s the solution?
At the moment, with a vaccine still at least a year away and the social and financial consequences of the lockdown being felt by millions, the best way forward is to implement a sort of ‘trial and error’ strategy.
This means temporarily lifting restrictions to ease some of the pressure while keeping a very careful eye on the number of cases, and if they start to rise, bringing back the restrictions again. Ideally, we’d get this right on the first try and wouldn’t need to bring back any restrictions. But with so many variables and so much unknown, immediate success is unlikely. This means repeating the cycle of lifting and placing these restrictions as many times as necessary to mitigate both the virus and the damage to the economy.
The restrictions can only be lifted for good once we know there are no more cases of the virus in Australia.
Once we know that, the country will likely resume business more or less as normal, except for strong limits on international travel, until a vaccine is developed and deployed, at which time “normal life” can finally resume.
We understand that this is a difficult time for a great many people. If your mental health is really suffering, please reach out and get some help. Beyond Blue has a dedicated support service for this exact situation, so find out more by clicking here, or just calling them on 1800 512 348
The latest information about restrictions and financial help can be found here.
If you have any concerns yourself about coronavirus or your respiratory health, you can get in touch with us to book a no fee telehealth appointment with our respiratory specialists.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. This won’t last forever.
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This article is from Keystone Medical Media, a sub-entity of Keystone Content.