Your verandah is your friend.
In 2020, we have a virus which we cannot kill yet. We can avoid transmission by self-isolation. However, some of us will be lonely. Some of us will be glued to the technology screens for work or to reduce boredom. I have written this to help you logically think about simply using your verandah, if you have one, which is hopefully two metres wide with child-proof railings.
Your verandah is your friend for surprising reasons. Looking into the distance relieves eye strain, outside light slows the onset of myopia (short-sightedness); green colour and looking at trees is relaxing, and sunlight stimulates immunity.
After World War II, there were not enough antibiotics. Hospitals were built with verandahs to help soldiers' recovery. Concord Repatriation Hospital in Sydney and Royal Newcastle Hospital had wide verandas.
Take care, but for 10 minutes enjoy the company of others at a safe distance. Don't be lonely, protect your eyes, and stimulate your immunity - use your verandah.
Dr Catherine Dunlop, Hamilton
VULNERABLE ARE VENERABLE
IN response to the increasing problem of the elderly in the coronavirus pandemic, I want to justify my not being put in the corridor when we're prioritising treatment.
I am in my late 70s, retired from paid work, run two courses for University of the Third Age, manage a weekly market stall, am a treasure to my family, read and keep up with the world, protest on important issues like climate change. I go to shows, and make craft. I'm a busy, colourful, got-all-my-marbles member of society with a wicked sense of humour.
I'm a bit down today. I'm on the verandah when Eastlakes University of the Third Age cancels all courses until further notice. Of course I agree, but we've joined the ever-growing list of cancelled/postponed cultural events and activities from bingo and book clubs to roller derby and rockabilly and all sports in between. I stocked up on books before the library closes. Leave the paper in the letterbox.
Each day I feel increasingly separated from society. I don't even live in a block of flats, so I can't lean on my balcony in the evening and join the neighbourhood choir with my nose flute.
What's next? In Great Britain it's suggested that the old people self-isolate for four months. If they decide that here, I'm ready. I've made my home into a place for a journey; lots of little stop-off points, some to revisit; activity areas; a nightclub for performances; a library; a music room; a variety of eating spaces, a drinks trolley; a mini conservatory; even a walk-in linen cupboard with Mick Jagger and the toilet paper. I don't have a smart phone, but a landline, radio, TV, computer and phonogram suffice.
Sounds wonderful? Paradise for the over-75s. Let's do it together, members of the troisieme age, and when the world wants us to come back and use our wisdom and experience to get it going again, stuff it.
Sue Leask, Belmont
AGED DON'T HAVE OPTIONS
SCOTT Hillard, yes; all those at high risk to COVID-19 should do all they can to be shielded from the threat, (Letters, 20/3). But I bear in mind they do not have options those younger have.
As the royal commission shows, many are forgotten. However, it is not just the case of mortality. There is an enormous risk that a huge number who will recover but could be too sick to work will be struck down all at once. This would collapse economies.
For the record, health authorities put the transmission rate at least twice that of flu and the virus as at least 10 times deadlier. One of the pillars of modern economies is vast transport in many forms, so transmission means a terrible catch-22.
I am relieved to hear, generally, that children and younger people get only mildly sick if they contract coronavirus.
Graeme Tychsen, Rankin Park
STAKES TOO HIGH TO SNIPE
SCOTT Hillard states with absolute certainty that "coronavirus does not pose a significant threat to society" (Letters, 20/3).
Aren't we lucky to have Mr Hillard to reassure us that we're not going off half-cocked about a supposed threat to our community?
All those doctors and health researchers warning us of the seriousness of our current circumstances, get back in your cave because Mr Hillard has spoken: It's merely a "classic case study in ... government overreach".
Mr Hillard claims that we can deal with COVID-19 if we "minimise the risk to those most vulnerable" and everyone else is allowed to "go about their business". This ignores one basic fact applied to all pandemics: identifying those at risk is virtually impossible once the pandemic takes hold. The chaos in Italy, with the death toll climbing alarmingly daily, demonstrates what happens when you let everyone go about their business.
Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea have dealt most effectively with this crisis. The reason is they acted quickly and isolated those affected. They controlled the infection. In Italy, the US and Australia we failed to recognise the gravity of the situation and allowed the infection to get out of hand. That is why we now have to virtually lock down the country - because we failed to act when we should have.
I believe that just as in the bushfires, our leadership failed us. As a result we have a massive crisis requiring the most drastic actions to try and manage it. As of March 19 there were 219,427 cases of COVID-19 worldwide. Of those, 9115 have died - that's just over four per cent of all occurrences ending in death. If 100,000 Australians were to be infected that's 4000 of us who wouldn't be around to see the resumption of sport, theatre and movies. If a million of us contracted the disease, that's 40,000 of us.
That is why we are in the dire straits we are in. The time for neo-conservative ideology and bashing big government is long past. This is what is at stake. Australia has a population of 26 million.
You do the maths.
Barney Langford, Whitebridge
OUR CIVILITY STILL MATTERS
IT would appear to me that it is the media that is primarily responsible for stoking the fires of hysteria over the effects of the coronavirus. Let us put it into some sort of perspective: there were 1.5 million deaths last year from tuberculosis, and that was only second to malaria. 30 million have died from HIV and tens of thousands have died from other infectious diseases.
As I write this, 75 people have died from the coronavirus in the UK this year up until March. Yet consider 28,000 died from the flu in 2014-15 and a further 18,000 in 2016-17. My understanding is that the majority of people who contract the virus have often just been mildly affected, so let us end this madness and conduct ourselves in a civilised manner.
Alan Kendall, Neath
SHARE YOUR OPINION
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a text message to 0427 154 176 (include name and suburb). Letters should be fewer than 200 words. Short Takes should be fewer than 50 words. Correspondence may be edited and reproduced in any form.
YESTERDAY while I was having a coffee and practicing social distancing I witnessed the most enormous lack of respect for two fire trucks and three police cars. The vehicles had sirens blaring and had to wait at lights while the stream of cars travelled past them oblivious to the emergency. Have we already forgotten what these services did for our country in the bushfires?
Judy Edwards, Bar Beach
I HAVE a young relative who works at one of the supermarkets. He normally drives, but at present his mother takes him and picks him. He doesn't deserve the abuse he receives because he loves his job.
Daphne Hughes, Kahibah
THIS is not a public holiday for all to hit the beaches and cafes as I have just witnessed across Newcastle. Get real, people. The Italians too took the laid-back approach. Look where they've ended up.
Paul Jensen, Newcastle
INSTEAD of making seniors and those with disabilities rise at the crack of dawn to shop, why not allocate different days for them to shop, and the young and fit other days? This could free up the markets to stock up and lead to less panic. Just a thought.
Rob Cosgrove, Merewether
No toilet paper? Don't mow your lawn. The longer, the softer. Canines have been doing it for centuries.
Matt McAlary, Waratah
SANITISER? Come on. The schoolboys of the Australian Army Cadet Corps in the 1950s, '60s and '70s remember the Castellani bottle which kept you safe when you were using those foul toilet pits in the bush.
Peter McNair, Newcastle
IT would appear to me that the decision made by the various football codes' administrations to continue their competitions through the COVID-19 virus outbreak up until now is primarily for the money from their TV contracts and secondarily for the health concerns of their players and staff.
Dick Jenkins, Stockton
SCOTT Hillard's belief that the coronavirus doesn't pose a significant threat (Letters, 20/3) is ridiculous. England's approach was to let the coronavirus run its course, it would be over in a couple of months and the death toll could be over 200.00. That's some car crash Scott. Since then they have decided to go the same way as the rest of the world including Australia. Our government is trying to save us from this pandemic.
Phill Payne, Gateshead
PAUL Keating warned that when the government changes, the country changes. The concept of sharing and a fair go for all has in my opinion never been part of Coalition policy or philosophy. We've been divided into lifters and leaners and told the age of entitlement is over; no free rides; user pays; bleeding hearts are demonised; sympathy and compassion are derided; strong survive, weak are trampled and you only get a go if you have a go. I think Australia has changed for the worse after 20 years of right wing government.