Wednesday, 04 March 2020
In the wake of Australia’s first coronavirus-related death on Sunday, the nation now has just a small window of opportunity to avoid hitting the panic button.
That’s the expert view of disaster response researcher Associate Professor Erin Smith of Edith Cowan University, who is calling for calm as the world edges closer to pandemic status.
“While this is scary, it’s important to remember that the virus is only causing clinically serious illness in around five per cent of those it has infected, and the 1-2 per cent of people who have died from coronavirus have generally been the elderly with co-morbid illnesses,” Professor Smith said.
“We have a unique window of opportunity at the moment to educate the public in order for them to remain alert and aware, but not alarmed.”
With supplies of face masks running out around the globe and an infodemic of misinformation spreading in parallel to the disease, Professor Smith said it was time to give the public practical things to do so they felt more in control of their personal preparedness.
Her recommendations include:
Professor Smith said it was important for Australian families to start having measured discussions around how to best prepare for a pandemic.
“It is wise to think ahead about potential scenarios, such as what to do if a parent or child became sick in the family,” she said.
“People need to think through how they would cope if kindergartens, child care centres and schools are closed down to prevent community transmission of the disease.
“If one or both of the parents is a first responder or health professional, they may be a higher risk of becoming infected through their contact with coronavirus patients, and that’s also a discussion worth having.”
Please leave a comment about your rating so we can better understand how we might improve the page.