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EDITORIAL: Timely reminder COVID-19 crisis far from over

Increasing conversations regarding safety measures relating to the COVID-19 pandemic – including recommendations of a fourth vaccination, of mask-wearing and encouraging considerations for working at home – will serve as a reminder to many that the crisis is far from over. 

For some, it may trigger anxiety with a reminder of the tough times of lockdown; or for others, a ‘what next’  or ‘what now’ scepticism. 

The lockdown of Stawell aged care facility Eventide Homes following an outbreak is a real-time reminder of the infection risk, particularly among more vulnerable members of the community; while the voluntary administration of Horsham residential home builders Hotondo Homes, due to rapidly rising prices, will have a ripple effect to people and businesses across the region. 

Meanwhile, a healthcare staffing crisis continues – with about 20 percent of Grampians Health staff absent from work, on average, on a daily basis. 

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This is all before Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants hit their peak, which is forecast in August. 

The Grampians Health absenteeism is consistent with statewide rates. 

Grampians Health’s chief strategy and regions officer Dr Rob Grenfell has said that emergency services across the state are under the ‘most incredible pressures’ the sector has ever experienced. 

“With the new COVID-19 BA.4 and BA.5 variants, we have seen a doubling of hospital admissions across the state just in the past week. As we hit above 800 hospital admissions in Victoria, that is equal to The Alfred hospital full of COVID-19 patients,” he said. “Our staff are our community members, too, and they are catching the same infections – so we have a very high absentee rate, just like other workplaces.”

Dr Grenfell said absenteeism was placing additional pressures on staff. 

“Our staff are often doing extended shifts as well as additional work because their colleagues are at home unwell. It is important people know we are doing our best to make sure all emergencies are attended to as soon as possible,” he said. 

Since June 22, statewide, there has been a 99 percent increase in hospitalisation and a 60 percent increase in ICU admissions due to COVID-19, and a 47 percent increase in healthcare workforce furlough.

Contracting COVID-19 has become more common as the time has progressed and variants have emerged. 

Little can be done to combat rising prices due to the pandemic, for example, and the business and economic impacts are well-documented. 

It’s the small measures we can take as individuals such as continuing personal hygiene measures that will bunker down to assist in the public response to what’s to come in the weeks and months ahead and lessening the pressures on those who are working relentlessly and tirelessly hard to respond – our frontline workers. 

The entire July 20, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!