COVID-19: Where are we now?

I’ve just spent an hour zooming with infectious disease experts re: what individuals and communities can do given what we know about COVID-19.

I have the privilege of being able to do this because I work at Sydney Uni.

So I feel compelled to share what I have just learnt and hope you find it useful because access to expert information that is unpoliticised, to questions about what we can do and why in these uncertain times, might just save lives and promote positive social hygiene behaviours.

C-19 is transferred via both contact and droplet transmission.

These droplets can be ‘aerosolised’ (aka air borne) and fall to a surface (table, bench, door handle etc) or be transmitted person to person.

We also know the affects of the C-19 virus on community groups is dependent on a number of factors (please note this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. The Amount of Exposure to the virus
  2. Age – the virus is more severe in the elderly because of co-existing disease.
  3. Underlying genetic factors – For instance: The number of receptors for this virus to get into the body systems and then the cells. Because males and females have different numbers of these receptors in their cells the impact of the virus also varies.

The Australian Approach

In Australia, we are operating under a policy of ‘suppression’ rather than elimination of the virus because elimination would require severe lockdowns and create social and economic consequences beyond what we have known to date.

So, the current policy is very much in step with a fire fighters approach to ‘spot fires’. Where measures are designed to fight outbreaks as quickly as possible.

Hence the official directive is:

  1. Get tested. If you have a tickle in your throat or show any signs of possible infection.
  2. While waiting for your results – SELF ISOLATE at home away from others.
  3. Social Distance

The fallacy of the FACE MASK

There is a lot of misinformation around the function and effectivity of facemasks.

Facemasks are personal protection equipment. The reason they are recommended (currently mandatory in Melbourne) is because the face mask acts as a barrier in 2 ways:

  1. Protects the WEARER against the transfer of droplets
  2. Protects the wider population by limiting the extent to generate droplets (a known source of transmission of C-19) to the environment.

So when you wear a mask, you’re not just protecting yourself, but also your community.

You’re being socially responsible and community-minded.

Key Insights from the panel discussion:

RNA (the genetic material of the C-19 virus) must reproduce exactly and yet there are some errors every time it multiplies. This is not necessarily a bad thing because through the changes in the strains, tracking of outbreaks can be more precise.

In Australia, C-19 outbreaks in January 2020 were largely from China, then a strain was tracked from Iran.

These nationalised strains of C-19 are beyond interesting to me and something no doubt worthy of further exploration, but by the experts – not me 🙂

I hope you have found this useful in clarifying any questions, hesitations or reservations you might be harbouring during these uncertain times.

Keep your distance, wear a mask out in public, wash your hands, cough into your elbow!

By doing this, you’re contributing to the solution of breaking the chain of infection.

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