CORONA CHRONICLES #10 – IS THE END IN SIGHT?
My last Corona Chronicles post was in January this year, so it’s high time for an update, but where do I even begin? I don’t think we really know the full story. We don’t get daily updates via news conferences anymore (great because they were scary and depressing but not so great because most are acting like its all over red rover these days) and many precautions have been relaxed now so many are acting like life is back to normal!
My last post was when Omicron had taken over from Delta and there was lots of speculation about whether it was less severe or worse than Delta but we knew it was far more infectious.
Things got pretty bad earlier this year here in Australia with Omicron. It reached the stage where everyone would know people who had the virus and/or they had the virus themselves. I personally know MANY people who’ve had the virus including two of my sisters, my brother, several of my friends and their partners and children. Miraculously, I have not yet had the virus.
Since the pandemic started we’ve had 15,399 deaths in Australia (stats at the time of typing this) and the majority of those deaths were this year (2022). At the end of August we were told the latest Omicron wave had passed. I’ve heard it said in news stories that there seems to be a pattern of coronavirus waves coming every three (3) months so another is expected in December – just in time for Christmas and school holidays. I guess time will tell whether that will be the case or not. The other risk factor is the fact that it will be winter in the northern hemisphere (outbreaks seem to be worse during winter) and many tourists from the northern hemisphere will be coming in and out of Australia during the holiday season.
Meanwhile, many of the previous precautions have been relaxed. Some people are relieved. I am quite nervous about it.
CHECKING IN, SOCIAL DISTANCING, HAND HYGIENE, SELF-ISOLATING & MASK WEARING
There’s no more ‘checking in‘ to every where we go. The virus spread became so huge and out of control and was spreading so fast that tracking people’s activities to keep ahead of it was futile.
Social distancing seems to be a distant memory. I don’t see people doing it when I’m out and about but I myself am still conscious of doing it.
Hand Hygiene. I’m still seeing bottles of hand sanitizers at lots of places I go – grocery stores, doctors surgeries, chemists, etc. I also keep a little bottle of hand sanitizer in my handbag that I use after touching things in public places.
From 14 October 2022, it is no longer mandatory to self-isolate at home if you test positive to COVID-19. If you have symptoms or have tested positive to COVID-19, Queensland Health strongly recommends you:
- stay home to isolate until you no longer have acute respiratory symptoms
- avoid entering hospitals, residential aged care facilities and disability accommodation services for at least 7 days and only when you no longer have any symptoms
- wear a face mask in an indoor setting and if you are unable to physically distance outside for at least 7 days after testing positive to COVID-19.
Mask wearing has been scrapped except as advised in last dot point above and for some places like residential aged care facilities; shared disability accommodation services; hospitals; healthcare settings where face-to-face services are provided; corrective services facilities; and detention centres. In my state of Queensland we were told that from Wednesday 21 September 2022, face masks were no longer required on public transport, in a taxi, rideshare vehicle or commercial shuttle. This includes while waiting on a platform, at a stop, taxi rank or pick-up area.
Masks are also required when outside of your home or accommodation if:
- you have a temperature equal to or higher than 37.5 degrees
- you have COVID-19 symptoms
- you’re awaiting a COVID-19 PCR test result
- you’re diagnosed with COVID-19.
But who polices that and who’s to say every person does that?
I still wear a mask when I go to supermarkets, chemists, doctor’s surgeries. If I went on public transport or a plane I’d still wear one and in an airport. I wear one in any indoor location where there are crowds of people. I have an immune deficiency and care for my elderly mother so maybe I’m a bit more paranoid then the usual person BUT I do have concerns that these relaxed conditions will have an adverse affect on those that are seriously immunocompromised. It will make them too scared to go out and reluctant to leave home as it leaves them so much more vulnerable and at higher risk now.
Here’s how its gone so far:
- So we had our two vaccines first up. I had AstraZenica and had to have them 3 months apart (1st in early May 2021 and 2nd in late July 2021). Those that had Pfizer could have the two shots a couple of weeks apart.
- Then we needed a booster. I had a Pfizer vaccine for this booster on 28 December 2021.
- Then as Omicron rolled in and things were looking bad we were advised to have another booster so long as 4 months (and then later changed to 3 months) from last booster. I had Moderna for my fourth shot. This shot was on 15 July 2022.
New Omicron Specific Vaccine
So the rollout has just recently begun of Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine, which targets the original 2020 COVID-19 variant as well as Omicron variant BA.1. The updated vaccine also appears to give some extra protection against subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, the main Omicron variants circulating in Australia.
It’s mostly available to people over 18 who still need to get their third or fourth vaccine, not for all of those people already up to date and seeking a fifth dose.
The only group for which a fifth dose is currently recommended are severely immunocompromised people aged 16 years or older. They can get a fifth dose three months after their fourth dose.
There are many people not happy about not being able to access this new vaccine particularly because this is in contrast to Singapore, where the Ministry of Health has recommended the bivalent as an additional fifth booster dose for everyone over the age of 18, because it broadens protection against variants and potential future ones. Americans have access to an even more advanced version of the vaccine, which targets the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.
WHEN WILL THE PANDEMIC END?
On September 14, WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters at a virtual press conference that the end of the pandemic is in sight. “We are not there yet. But the end is in sight.” You can see that virtual press conference below. It runs for only 1 minute and 7 seconds.
How are you feeling about all things Coronavirus? Do you think the end is in sight?
Ciao for now,
Linking up with Denyse Whelan’s ‘Wednesday’s Words and Pics‘
Hi Min, I continue practicing the 3Ws (wash my hands, wear my mask and watch my distance). Public Health officials where I live recommend masking in indoor public spaces. I don’t think the end of covid-19 pandemic is in sight yet but we have more experience and vaccines to take care of our health when it comes to covid-19. #WW&P
Hi Natalie, I like your 3Ws reference! I think Covid19 will be around always but we are better placed now with vaccines and ongoing research to deal with it will make living with it much less worrisome in years to come hopefully!
Hi Min – I think we’re coming to understand that we will never defeat covid and we are learning to live with it. I do like the fact that hand sanatizer and trolley wipes are still available. I work in a medical setting, so mask wearing is still mandatory at work – and I can’t say I love it. In hospital I wore a mask leading up to surgery but didn’t need one in the ward (the nurses were all masked) but I was masked when I went to have my xray in another part of the hospital.
I don’t see myself as high risk, so I’m fine with the easing of restrictions – but definitely think that people who worry should protect themselves and their loved ones – and we all need to be “alert but not alarmed”.
Hi Leanne, I agree that Covid19 will most likely be around forever (like the flu etc) but vaccines and ongoing research will help get us out of ‘pandemic status’ and more able to live with it with less fear and hopefully far less deaths and severe illness! I feel for you having to wear a mask all day when at work. I’d struggle with that! I wear one when I go to a crowded indoor place (usually only a short time) and can’t wait to whip it off the minute I get outside!
I wash my hands a lot, use sanitiser and try to keep away from crowds. I don’t really worry about covid, but obviously i take care. it’s just never been a concern of mine. does that sound awful? I mean just for me personally i’ve never worried about getting it.
Hi Sherry – I don’t worry about Covid like I used to. In the beginning I was terrified to be honest, but I’m not fearful anymore. However, I do still take precautions to try and protect myself because I do have an immune deficiency and when I get sick, I get really sick. I also don’t want to inadvertently take the virus to my 81 year old mother.
I hear you Min and don’t blame you at all for taking precautions. It’s certainly been a long haul and I really don’t know when it will all end.
Hi Debbie, I think it will eventually become like the flu – an annual vaccination needed and hopefully far less dire consequences from it and no more pandemic! Fingers crossed!
There’s a part of me that would like to think it’s over but then again, its a sneaky virus. We are not wearing masks at the shops as of this week. However, it would only take being in a more crowded setting to see me put one back on. I understand your caution and that is so caring as well.
Good on you for writing in such detail too, you will be glad you have these records on the blog Min.
Great to have your blog post this week link up for Wednesday’s Words and Pics.
I look forward to see you next week, too.
Thank you so much.
Hi Denyse, I guess knowing how sick I can get so easily is what keeps me being very cautious! I recently picked up a tummy bug from my son and was way sicker with it than he was (and my other son). Aside from myself getting sick the worry of Mum getting sick is an even huger reason why I won’t be relaxing my precautions just yet. xo
My sister and I bought the cutest Corona virus scrapbook paper and had all intentions of chronicling our experiences during Covid but we got sidetracked with other projects and have just begun thinking about starting this now. In some ways, the pandemic seems like some kind of bad dream, something that happened long ago. But then I get a phone call that my daughter is taking her two year old to be tested for Covid and we are suddenly right back in the middle of things again. It is amazing to me that my mama never contracted the virus. But every one of us – my brother, his fam, my sister, her fam, my in-laws, my husband, our fam and I all got it. Thank goodness we all had relatively mild cases.
I threw out all of my cute cotton fabric masks last weekend. Thought about keeping them longer…just in case…but figured if I have to have masks again, I will buy new ones. Here’s hoping we don’t.
Hi Leslie, sorry to hear that you and so many of your family have had Covid. I’m amazed I haven’t got it yet and very thankful my mother hasn’t *touch wood*! I have plenty of ‘pretty’ cotton face masks but when things got bad I resorted to wearing the disposable medical ones as that felt safer to me. I don’t always like writing about Covid and it may be boring to readers but I think I’ll be glad I ‘chronicled’ it in years to come. I think upon it as a bit of a time capsule thing. I hope that things don’t get bad again and that the end at least of pandemic status is in sight!
I wore a mask when flying to Melbourne recently though it wasn’t required and I certainly don’t enjoy wearing them. I don’t tend to wear one when I go shopping or anything like that.
I work from home and am pretty slack on the social front so have been fortunate to date not to have caught it (at least that I’m aware of!). But I’ve got a work colleague who also works from home who’s caught it 3 times!!!
I worry a bit that I’ve become too relaxed about it and – though I’ve been vaccinated etc – if I get it I’ll get it badly or give it to my mother etc…
Hi Deb – I’d have worn the mask on the plane too and I *hate* wearing them. I’m claustrophobic and I hate how my glasses fog up. I’m not very social either which is a bit sad but that is the result of not belonging to a workplace, the pandemic, and a lot of my time being taken up caring for Mum. Even though I’m not very social I don’t think that is why I haven’t got the virus yet because there are three others in my house that go on public transport to the city to work each day and come back home to me and could be bringing all manner of bugs with them. I think it’s just been some good luck! Having had all the vaccinations I’ve had does reassure me that if I do get it, I will hopefully be ok. I do not want my mother to get it though! She’s been healthy all her life (healthier than me) but nowadays I would not want to chance it. I’m a bit more relaxed too I have to say. The other day I went to have a facial (using up a soon to expire gift voucher) and I walked into the shopping centre and then into the beauty salon without a mask. Such a rebel!
Hi, I’m a random blow-in! Also in Brisbane, and commenting just because I really appreciated coming across something by another local who worries still about Covid. It doesn’t happen everyday, for reasons mentioned! I too have an immune thing, caused by medication I take for rheumatoid arthritis, so I’m one of the people still masking out and about, which for me includes 9 hours a day at the office. It’s very tedious, but I don’t want to wind up with long Covid when the solution to this thing could be just around the corner. I’ve been disabled by illness in the past, and I don’t want to be again. Like you I am living pretty antisocially at the moment, in my case more because of Covid and less because of other work/life stuff. It’s not great, and knowing others can’t fully understand is a bit sad and isolating too. But: there’s good stuff coming out all the time about new vaccine and treatment developments. It won’t be like this forever.
Hi Rebecca! Lovely to have you visit. It’s a worry when you have an immune thing isn’t it? When I get sick I get really sick so it’s best I avoid getting sick in the first place. I also can’t afford to get sick as I have my mother to care for and I don’t want her getting sick either. Interestingly, since I published this post there have been ever increasing news articles about new Covid waves coming. I knew it was only a matter of time and that is why I still chose to wear a mask when out and about with crowds of people in enclosed spaces. I think Covid will be around for years to come yet but eventually will become like the flu – requiring an annual vaccination to help prevent getting it. Hope you stay well and thanks so much for reading and commenting!
That’s what I’m gonna keep telling myself anyway!