Right now, everything feels uncertain. It’s normal to fear the unknown and the unprecedented.
At the time of reporting, COVID-19 has arrived on the soil of over 150 countries. Nearly 8,000 are dead worldwide and more than 190,000 are infected.
By all reports, it’s expected to worsen significantly.
Countries like Italy, France, Denmark, and Spain are in lockdown. Australia’s had over 400 confirmed coronavirus cases and five deaths. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday morning that we should plan for “a difficult six months”.
We’re in the midst of a rapidly developing pandemic for an illness which we so far have no cure for.
No one knows what the world will look like in six months. The drastic measures implemented by governments globally would have been unimaginable just months ago.
On one level the reaction of the Australian public has seemed reasonable: blind panic.
Watch: Mamamia’s Claire Murphy breaks down your most asked questions about COVID-19. Post continues below.
We’ve stripped our supermarkets bare of toilet paper and sanitiser. We’ve witnessed physical arguments take place in the pasta aisles of Woolworths. Staff members have been abused. We’ve seen people bark at others on public transport for not covering their nose when they sneeze.
The overwhelming advice, though, from all levels and areas of expertise, is simple: don’t panic. It’s not helpful to panic.
“The next few months are critical for us,” Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, explains to Mamamia.
“Panic doesn’t help. We’re in a country that has incredible resources, an incredible healthcare system, incredible laboratory capacity and a sensible democratic government. So people should not be panicking, but our lives will be different for the next few months.
“At the moment, our response has been extremely good,” Professor Lewin says. “We’re testing very extensively, and we have a health system that can identify and isolate people.”
As Professor Lewin points out, we have extreme measures in place that are designed for a long-term response to this crisis.
In Australia, the government has secured additional supplies for extensive testing. They have implemented a travel ban on unessential international travel indefinitely and have quarantined all people arriving from overseas. They have put a ban on non-essential outdoor events with over 500 people and non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more. They have extensively encouraged social distancing of 1.5 metres between people.