COVID: No time for complacency, ‘community must act early’

By Indira Laisram
Representational Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

There will be more waves of COVID-19 for us to face as a community as new variants emerge that can evade prior immunity, warns Prof Benjamin Cowie, Acting Chief Health Officer in the Department of Health, Victoria.

“The only guarantee we have of what is coming is that we will have more waves of COVID-19. The probability is we will have another wave before the year end,” says Cowie.

Although there is consolation in the fact that the seven-day average of cases are falling for a couple of weeks now, and even more importantly, in the number of people being hospitalised, there is still tragic news.

“We still have significant numbers of Victorians losing their lives due to COVID-19. Those deaths on a seven-day average are in the 20-25 range, which is very significant. COVID-19 will be one of the leading causes of the loss of lives Australia wide over the course of this year,” says Prof Cowie.

Addressing members of the multicultural media community on Thursday, Cowie said, “We are continuing to have a very significant dominance of the BA4 and BA5 subvariants of COVID-19.”

That is why the government is monitoring wastewater to track the emergence of new variants—an incredible useful strategy in Victoria that gives a forewarning of a wave even before the number of cases start going up.

Source // VMC Official

Best way to face future waves

As a community, Cowie advises acting early has a very significant effect on stemming transmissions, that directly helps our health system manage the demand at peak.

So every Victorian must protect himself, the family and the community through the relatively simple measures we all know now—staying physically distant, wearing mask indoors and outside, ventilation, staying at home when unwell, getting tested, staying up to date with vaccination, says Cowie, also an infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist.

“The key part here is ensuring that the community understands there is all the evidence available that by doing these we are increasing protection and that we need to activate these measures to protect our health system too,” he adds.

Information in languages, health & emergency

The COVID-19 hotline (1800 675 398 and press 0) has translation services in more than 50 languages.

The ESTA Triple zero service 000 emergency telephone service has access to more than 2,700 interpreters in more than 150 languages.

Victorian hospitals employ interpreters accredited on common community languages. Health services can also access 24-hour telephone interpreting for all languages.

For more information, click here


Cowie says access to COVID-19 medicines such antivirals have significantly improved. They are lifesaving.

To procure antivirals, either a positive PCR test or a RAT test that is confirmed by a clinician such as a GP or a nurse practitioner is sufficient. “If your GP either in person or via telehealth confirms and is satisfied that you have all the symptoms based on your positive RAT test, you don’t have to go to PCR just to prove you have COVID to get the antivirals.”

It is important that these tablets are taken in the first five days but your eligibility for it is based on your risk category.

For information on medicines, click here

Source // VMC Official

Pandemic financial support

The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment has been extended. This payment provides financial support while you are isolating at home, unable to work due to being COVID-19 positive, or if you are caring for someone who is COVID-19 positive.

More information is available here

Core message

The government’s core message is that as a community, we have a collective role to look after each other. The importance of vaccination, masks, maximising the use of natural ventilation are all provided in documents in languages to access the information.

Even if you have had COVID-19, the vaccine is not only safe but it helps to further protect you against subsequent infection of COVID-19, particularly and most importantly, from severe illnesses and hospitalisation.

“For many of the people who are ending up in hospital with COVID-19 at the moment – it is not from first-time infection. But this time it’s more severe for them. So vaccine is really important even if you’ve had COVID, it prevents serious illness the next time around. For those who have had COVID, once they have passed the three months the key message is to go and get it,” sums up Cowie.

Connect with Indira Laisram on Twitter

The Indian Sun acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

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