Monday, 6 April 2020

The Covid Chronicles #3


A few days into our recent road trip through western NSW into South Australia and their wine districts, I decided to start a journal. I was taken with the urge to document the unfolding drama of Covid-19. The trouble began on the second day when I realised that this urge would wax and wane.

Some days I simply couldn't take it any more. My brain was overwhelmed by information, numbers and a changing reality and I had nothing to say about it. On other days I was acutely conscious of this changing world. I wanted to record the evolving events for posterity and perhaps, my blog.

Mr Books and I are the type of people who listen to and watch the ABC news every day, we read science-based articles and seek out factual information. But as we scrolled through our facebook and twitter accounts, it became apparent that other people were not so assiduous. People were responding to and sharing rumours and hearsay, spreading fear instead of facts. It didn't help that some of these people were leaders of influential countries.

At this point of our journey, we were on the beautiful island of Kangaroo Island.

This was the weekend our government announced the four square metres rule for restaurants, cafes and other public spaces. Suddenly, everywhere we went, only every second or third table was in use. International travel was also put on hold. Travellers had until 9pm Friday to arrive in Australia. After that, any returning Australian citizens would have to self-isolate for 14 days. Unfortunately this announcement had the effect of creating a mad scramble by Australian citizens and international backpackers to get here before the cut-off date. Many, if not most of these travellers were coming from countries far more badly affected than Australia by the coronavirus. No testing was applied to any of these travellers and they were sent out into the community, trusting they would do the right thing and self-isolate.

Guess what? A large number of them didn't.

The backpackers gathered in Bondi for beach parties and even many Australians felt that somehow these measures didn't apply to them either. They caught up with family and friends, went out shopping and popped into work.

Amazingly, despite these careless bungles, our community transmission of the virus is still incredibly low. It turns out the summer bush fires that devastated so much of NSW, VIC and SA and kept the tourists away, actually helped us to avoid the worse case scenario that is playing out in many other countries. Our economy was stuffed even before the coronavirus hit!

We still had one week left of our driving tour, but we realised it was no longer possible to do this. It was time to get back to NSW as quickly as possible, in case more states decided to close their borders.

In keeping with the spirit of our trip, we found the most direct route possible that took us through outback areas of all three states that we had never been to or even heard of before.

We crossed the SA/VIC border near Pinnaroo and the VIC/NSW border at Tooleybuc. It was two long days of driving, but we reached Mr Books' home country late on the second day knowing that we could stop on his family's rural property for a couple of days R&R.


At this point we considered riding out any future lockdown here, or at our holiday home in the mountains. But B19 was home alone and we didn't want him by himself during whatever might happen in the coming months. So as much as we didn't want to go back to the germ factory of Sydney, where all the news bulletins were showing us people struggling to get on board with social distancing, we felt we had to go.

The Covid Chronicles #2
The Covid Chronicles #1

8 comments:

  1. It's been such a strange time... I find myself wondering more and more about how people reacted during the Spanish flu. Sue at Whispering Gums has posted about it today, I'm about to read what she has to say...

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    1. Thanks for the heads up about Sue's latest post. I was hoping that this quiet time away from work would have a positive effect on my reading and blogging time, but not yet - way too distracted. Contemporary fiction in particular has no appeal right now.
      I would be interested in looking at Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider. There's also a more recent non-fiction account of the Spanish Influenza by Spinney also titled Pale Rider.

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  2. From Pinaroo to Ouyen and on used to be home country for me. The mallee! I'm sorry you didn't have time for side trips into the big desert or to Pink Lake or Sea Lake. Just this last week I got my permit to operate a road train in northern Victoria so I'll be back! Bill

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    1. We love a road trip Bill, so I promise to return to the Mallee to do the side trips one day. We did hear about the big Mallee root stump at Ouyen but at the end of a long days drivng, we settled for a walk around the old machinery opposite the pub as we waiting for a takeaway chicken parmi to cook :-)

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  3. It's been interesting to see the different styles of the various world leaders. New Zealand's prime minister continues to impress me with her practicality combined with empathy. Trump is the disaster we always knew he would be in a crisis - irresponsibly passing on the advice from medical experts re face masks and then saying he wouldn't be wearing one. Boris Johnson was surprisingly good (until he succumbed to the virus). I haven't seen the Australian PM. Has he done a better job of this than he did with the fires?

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    1. Our PM has done better in this crisis than during the bushfires. One thing that seems to have worked for us was an early closure of our borders to international travel. It devastated the already devastated tourism industry, but kept the virus contained to travellers.

      Unless out testing results are completely off, we do seem to have contained community transmission of the virus. This is a bit of an unknown though, as the testing regime is still restricted to people who've had known contact.

      Your PM comes across as a bit of a buffoon, but I'm glad he didn't become another statistic. Perhaps next time he won't go around shaking hands with contagious patients!

      Trump goes off-message at the drop of a hat and confuses everybody, including himself. His ability to blame everyone else for the tragedy in the US instead of accepting responsibility for his slow response and save-the-economy-at-all-costs approach turned out to be devastating for the American people. Certainly his 'it will all be over by Easter' speech which was ridiculous at the time, is now just sadly, laughable, for how unrealistic and unprepared he really was.
      [Rant over]

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  4. Are people in the germ factory of Sydney still going out & about ? Are businesses still open there? Everything seems pretty shutdown here in western Canada ... except groceries and pharmacies etc. And light snowflakes today are keeping us company.

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    1. They were the weekend we got home, but from the Monday onwards we have been in lockdown mode.
      That will be part of the next installment of The Covid Chronicles :-)

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