Personal responsibility in the age of COVID-19 choices

Changes to Australia’s isolation rules came into effect on October 14. This involved removal of the isolation mandate for people who test positive for COVID.

At a time like this, management of the pandemic has now become a personal responsibility. It’s still very important to be aware of your own infection risk and be careful around others if you test positive for COVID or have COVID-related symptoms.

Does this mean the pandemic is over?

Many may be tempted to believe that the pandemic is over. But that’s not the case. 

In ABC’s podcast ‘Coronacast’, Dr. Norman Swan said that “The Chief Health Officer, Paul Kelly, did acknowledge that this is not the end of the pandemic, but he said that we’ve just got to stop having exceptional rules for it. Mandatory isolation is one of the last Covid measures that we’ve got to hold the line against a new surge that might be coming along. 

“And just in case you think it’s not exceptional, let’s just remind Coronacasters that 13,000 people or more have died this year from COVID-19, more if you add the excess in cardiac, cancer and dementia deaths that others are putting down to Covid as the primary reason for those increased deaths.”

COVID-19 is still around and still poses a risk to our collective health.

There has been an uptick in COVID-19 cases in several countries in Europe. Germany’s cases doubled last week from the week before. France is going up, Singapore is going up, Austria is going up. 

When we look at the variants that are on the increase, it’s still dominantly BA5, but the BA2.75 subvariant is now on the rise. Which is not a huge number, but it’s on the rise. According to a report by Time, it’s the next big variant raising alarms in multiple countries. 

They wrote “It’s already gained the ability to evade the immunity provided by current vaccines and can’t be neutralized by many of the antiviral drug treatments available. So far, the strain has been reported in 47 countries and in 39 U.S. states, where it still accounts for less than 1% of COVID-19 cases.”

There are other variants sitting in the background as depicted in the infographic below.

source: @profesterman

‘COVID news fatigue’ may have seeped in as well. It’s become harder and harder to keep track of the latest evolution this virus has undergone. Or of which variant is now the dominant strain. Even vaccine complacency can be seen as the 4th booster uptake has been significantly slower than the last one. In the pharmacy, we are still on the receiving end of inquires about who is eligible for which vaccination as the eligibility criteria become more complex and newer vaccines are introduced. 

What does personal responsibility entail?

Keeping this in mind, the removal of isolation mandates does not mean we ignore COVID, or stop isolating, or give up managing the risk we might pose to others. 

An article in The Conversation summarised it perfectly, “It will take ongoing efforts to manage the risks individually and globally. Vaccines help reduce severe illness and long COVID. But with infections already on the rise overseas and other Omicron sub-variants emerging, we need to be thinking ahead.

“This is now the long game, so monitoring our exposure risk, being aware of our symptoms, testing when we suspect we have been exposed, and isolating when we need to, will continue to be the best way to protect ourselves, and those around us.”

This means if you’re worried you’ve been exposed to someone with the virus, or start to see symptoms, it’s always better to know your COVID status. Ignoring it can put yourself and others at risk. Keeping the following suggestions in mind may help:

  • Self-testing if you start exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. It’s better to err on the side of caution if you work in high-risk settings or are around people vulnerable to serious disease
  • Staying up-to-date with vaccination status as and when ATAGI passes their recommendations. Heathershaw’s offers Bivalent Moderna Booster vaccine appointments. If you are eligible and haven’t received your booster yet, you can book one for yourself online <link> 
  • Masks are no longer mandated, but if you feel that you are in a space where the risk of infection is higher, it’s best to assume the virus is present and mask up
  • Being aware of who has access to COVID-19 antivirals in case of illness 
  • Lastly, practice hand hygiene whenever possible. Using a hand sanitiser daily is a simple act of protection 

Opinions or facts expressed within the content have been sourced from various news sources. While every effort has been taken to source them accurately, the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates do not take any responsibility for errors in these sources. Patients should not rely on the facts or opinions in the content to manage their own health, and should seek the advice of an appropriate medical professional. Further, the opinions or facts in the content do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates.

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