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Coronavirus Consequences

There’s no room for complacency in a post-COVID world.

What we’re seeing out of Victoria – and indeed the rest of the world – is that there can be no room for complacency when it comes to a global pandemic. There was an excited murmur building across the country. Fresh optimism was building as restrictions begin to be lifted in each of the states, allowing communities to experience the ‘new normal’ post-coronavirus Australia.

For many, it has been a long time coming. The economy is in dire need of activity with cafes, restaurants, bars, shopping centres and tourism hotspots amongst lots of other workplaces closed for months. The unemployment rate is now at 7.4%, with just under 1 million Australians out of work. So, in theory, stimulating the economy will open up more jobs and help more Australians get back on track.

I’m not here to dispute that. But I am here to offer a warning – complacency will have dire consequences.

We only have to take a look at our neighbours in Victoria to see that. On the eve of their next phase of restrictions lifting, COVID-19 reared its head, hotspots developed in communities which house a fifth of the state’s population. Worse, it’s what the experts have long feared: people have contracted the virus via community transmission.

Up until now, the vast majority of Australia’s coronavirus cases have come from visitors returning from overseas travel. This time, it’s people within our own communities. Complacency reminds us that we are not immune.

I’ve personally been in isolation since early March, only getting out when I felt 100% safe, because I’m classified as someone of high risk; my weakened lungs make me highly vulnerable should I contract the virus. But it’s not just me – my wife and son have also had to have limited interactions with friends and family, so they don’t pose a risk bringing COVID-19 home. It’s a burden that I am eternally grateful for them making.

Without a vaccine, coronavirus is still a real threat to people in our communities, asthmatics, diabetics, the elderly and people who are already immune-compromised or with underlying medical problems. Their greatest chance of survival is not coming into contact with the disease at all. However, with an incubation period of up to 14 days and with many positive COVID-19 cases showing no symptoms, there is no way of guaranteeing you are protecting those who are vulnerable unless you isolate.

So if you’re sitting at home thinking ‘So what? It’s only a handful of cases. We’re still better off than other countries’ you’re 100% right. But a recent study showed that people with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) who contracted COVID-19 had almost double the fatality rate compared to others .

The study showed that based on current statistics if 100,000 people (aged 18-74) with IDD contract COVID-19, they would expect 4,500 to die compared to 2,700 people without IDD. That’s a discrepancy of 1,800 IDD deaths.

The disability sector isn’t the only minority group who is vulnerable, Indigenous Australians, the homeless, pregnant and new mums are just as vulnerable. As a community, we have a responsibility to look after them because as Australians that’s what we do – we look after our mates.

So remember, while restrictions are lifting and we begin to emerge into the ‘new normal’, please wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, and don’t be complacent. Because we can only get through this by working together.

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