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‘