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Living With COVID. Have Your Say.

By Staff Writer Matt Owen

It has been 18 months since COVID changed the world. 18 months. Lockdown after lockdown in some parts of Australia. Isolation for weeks at a time. Businesses going broke. People going bankrupt. Mental health, domestic violence and suicide, all on the rise. Imagine if there was a happiness index that measured the overall happiness of our population. I wonder where that would sit today?

Contact tracing, essential workers, COVID passports, border closures and vaccination hesitation are terms now in our everyday vocabulary. Limitations are or have been in place in the following areas: community and kids sport, home schooling, where we can go, funerals, theatres, cinemas, church services, home gatherings, reasons for leaving home and weddings. Even dancing has been off limits while more questionable pursuits (you know what I mean) are operating. Mandatory mask wearing at various times, including all day at high schools and workplaces, and the list goes on and on. This is far removed from the world we knew in 2019.

The Question of Vaccination

The emphasis now (after the Delta strain, a slow rollout and global embarrassment from extremely low vaccination figures) is on vaccination. The divisive issue of vaccination. The position of our leaders and it seems, the majority of the population, is that vaccination is the only way out. Is there any other option?

Some say vaccination rates of 70% or 80% will see lockdowns end, but we will also need boosters for new strains and who knows what these strains will consist of. Nobody really knows and that’s the serious concern around an evolving global pandemic. Has anything really changed in 18 months? Is the situation any better?

Some people have the view they are doing the right thing to get vaccinated (it is the right thing to do for the greater good); others can’t believe that it could have been thoroughly tested so quickly (an experimental vaccination?) and others will just never get the jab, no matter what the rewards or penalties. Vaccination basically splits the nation into three segments. Let’s call them the Early Adapters that may drive our vaccination rates to around 50% relatively quickly, the Later Adapters who may be the next 20-30% ,and the Never Adapters who will need to find a way to live in a world that will have (at least in the short-term) limitations on where they go and what they do. How is this going to play out? It really is like a movie script.

Vaccination is possibly the most divisive issue that will ever face our country. There are genuine fears where our society will go with this. We are heading towards ‘rewards’ for those vaccinated including travel, entertainment and employment, and even financial incentives and lotteries have been discussed. On the other hand, these outcomes may be seen as ‘penalties’ for those that decide it isn’t for them or their children. The COVID pandemic has really put personal freedoms on the agenda like never before. What will happen to the people who decide not to get vaccinated? Their lives may look very different to those that step up for the double jab and subsequent boosters.

The Lucky Country?

But as a country we have been lucky, right? We haven’t had the cases or the deaths anything like other countries. In fact, in Queensland there have been seven deaths. But our country is closer to a standstill then other countries with many more cases and many more deaths. What has made Australia unique in our approach?

Yes, we have been kept safe, but at what cost, and how long will the cost last? One thing that has always been a major concern is that the decision makers are wealthy, with weekly incomes of somewhere between $3,000 and $8,000. These ‘leaders’ have the narrative that we are ‘all in this together’, but are we really? What about the population living week to week, living with anxiety and high stress levels and literally waiting on the next pay cheque to survive.

These precautions and lost freedoms were based on the potential of what ‘could’ happen. Just imagine if this same philosophy was afforded to cancer, heart disease, suicide, obesity and road safety! We have now seen lockdowns based on one single case of COVID. What is the criteria for these decisions? What is the real agenda of the decision-makers? Australia has been mocked recently for locking down based around minimal cases. At some stage there has to be a return to some kind of normal life, but how long will this take and what will the real cost be?

Many questions – few answers

So, what does it mean to you? Nothing? How has your life changed? Financially, emotionally, mentally, your day to day life, your loved ones. What is your happiness index? Do you even believe that COVID is real? Is it the reset, big brother at work, natural evolution, man-made or something else? What is the next strain going to look like? Where does it end? So many questions and so few answers.

What is your opinion about our State and Federal Government performances? Were their decisions based on what was best for the community, their constituents, or was it more about playing politics, winning the next election or, dare I say it, their legacy?

Have your say

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