Welcome to day 4 of a hard seven-day lockdown in Victoria. It is the fourth time since the COVID Pandemic started in March 2020 here in Australia. We had managed 87 days free of any new community infections, but now after several weeks of relative freedom, we are begrudgingly resigned to “here we go again”. Vaccine rollout has been slow, and still many of our most vulnerable are still waiting. Today nursing homes are back in the news, sadly, but no deaths at this stage.
I am fortunate that I live in a rural area without any cases but the way people have been moving around the state and interstate as well, it doesn’t pay to be complacent. The central state vaccine hotline for bookings has foundered under pressure, with walk-ups not allowed at most sites. I have heard that our local country town’s vaccine site is booked out until the end of the month! If you are lucky enough to have a local doctor looking after you, then you can get a jab that way. But for those of us without a local doctor, unless it is an emergency, you could take your chances and travel out-of-town to a bigger centre. Travelling to receive a COVID injection is one of the five reasons you are allowed to leave your home during this current lockdown.
My Facebook memories keep reminding me of where we were this time last year. Not too far from home, I can tell you! But here we are again in lockdown. A week ago, I was busy with many different commitments and activities, and now I am in stay-home mode. At least my husband and I got to celebrate our birthdays and wedding anniversary this year. I did manage a trip over the border to visit my Mum for Mother’s Day this month.
Although we are in a better situation than other parts of the world, constant disruption to our lives seems to be the new normal. Take care all. I’m off to listen to the latest press conference. We had five more cases overnight, which is better than double digits but still infection cases causing concern. It is anyone’s guess if this lockdown will end after seven days.
In my home amongst the gumtrees in Victoria’s High Country
The Kookaburras laugh from their lofty perches
At the sight of masked humans going about their business.
The state government has mandated face coverings for public forays.
I can make it to the farm gate without covering up my face
But as soon as I cross the cattle grid out comes my mask;
My defence against a world that is playing host to a virus
That has us locked down in a fight against an enemy that doesn’t bear arms.
In a small town where we are use to greeting one another as old friends;
We hog supermarket aisles; as we compare the price of sheep and cattle;
If we are fortunate we can also boast our latest rainfall readings;
Battered hats and well-worn boots can separate the townies from the farming folk;
But a second look is needed as we try to recognise each other wearing such strange attire.
Face coverings come in all shapes and sizes, some in colours and designs;
In a display of the wearer’s fashion sense and personality.
Forced to adopt this strange new ritual we hope to flatten that damn curve.
Another Aussie take on this COVID thing is a ballad by comedian Sammy J. Apologies to “Banjo” Paterson who penned the “Man from Snowy River”, a poem that inspired the movie made in the High Country where I live. The Bunnings reference is to a rather large chain of hardware stores popular with do DIY types and tradies. Also apologies to anyone called Karen who may be offended.
The former Australian treasurer and Prime Minister, Paul Keating reknown for his cutting comments in parliament and memorable quotes used the words “a beautiful set of numbers” to describe the nation’s economic outlook. Sadly, here in Victoria over the past two weeks we are playing a dangerous numbers’ game with new COVID-19 infections hitting triple digits and several more deaths after weeks of being cautionsly optismtic of flattening the curve. We were leading the way with zero new community transmitted coronavirus infection cases. But as all the health experts and our government leaders tell us there is no room for complacency. With the exception of NSW which recorded 20 new cases today, all the other states and terrorities have managed to avoid any new cases or community outbreaks in recent weeks. Victorians are not welcome over the state borders. This has created headaches for those who live and work in towns located along the borders on both sides.
I am one of the forunate ones living in regional Victoria where there have been only three confirmed cases which was early in the pandemic. Our city friends and one regional shire are now forced back into Stage 3 lockdown while the rest of us are free to move around while abiding by social distancing restrictions. It has become a macarbe pastime waiting for the daily media conferences by our state leader giving the COVID-19 figures for the past 24 hours. While the numbers have come down today we are still in triple figures which is cause for alarm. The COVID-19 Pandemic State of Emergency has been extended until August 16 in the state of Victoria. It is very tough on people in the city of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire being forced back into Lockdown for the third time but the government is trying to avoid Stage 4 Lockdown restrictions if possible. As of midnight on Thursday, all residents outside their homes will be required to wear a face mask (under 12s will be exempt) as per the web link below.
For those living in regional areas in Victoria that are not under lockdown but still adhering to social distancing restrictions and hygiene procedures the official advice is if you feel you cannot keep the 1.5 metre distance from other people you should wear a face mask. To further protect our rural areas more COVID-19 testing sites are being set up including one in our local town from this week.
My husband just called me outside to view the most beautiful rainbow over the hill near our house. Maybe that is a good sign of better things to come, just as my early flowering daffodils promise hope as they explode into a bright yellow display. The colour is most welcome as our winter has been a cold and grey one since the official start of winter from June 1.
Today July 20 also marks the anniversary of the first man on the moon in 1969. I remember watching the black and white television in the school master’s house with the other 12 students from my bush primary school as this history in the making event unfolded. Surely, if we can put a man on the moon we can find the means to beat this coronavirus that is causing such global havoc. One has to have hope.
Here in Australia it looks like our leaders are preparing us for the road out of the COVID-19 crisis come June with an easing of more restrictions. While our nation is the envy of other countries with our low rate of infections and death toll at 101 to date, it is not guaranteed that we will avoid a second wave of the virus outbreak without a vaccine available as yet. To me this coming out is the most dangerous part so far because I have been able to self-isolate at home and minimise face-to-face contact with others. In one way I am not in a rush to return to “normal” because that means getting back on a crazy treadmill of life activities. On the other hand a sunny beach holiday (has turned cold down south!) or a trip for lunch at my favourite winery with friends would be nice!
One of the most notable aspects of this lock-down has been the level of innovation and creativity emerging via our computer and phone screens in recent weeks. I have enjoyed listening to balcony concerts from fellow blogger and soprano Charlotte Hoather from her London flat through to fun parodies of popular pop music.
Stuck in Paradise is a parody of the 1980s hit Run to Paradise by Australian band The Choirboys. The video is typical of Aussies poking fun at themselves even when the going gets tough. The original song brings back special memories of being stuck on a Contiki bus tour in 1989 and travelling through the former Soviet Union and East Germany. For three weeks every morning when we boarded the bus that was the theme song for our trip with no respect for those of us suffering from overindulgence in vodka and black-market champagne the night before!
Our hearts go out to those who have suffered terrible loss and upheaval during this coronavirus emergency but a sense of humour and a love of the arts is helping many of us find the road out.