I am writing to express my gratitude to the Hunter New England Health staff involved in the local COVID-19 clinics.
Every person I spoke with during the process of being tested was professional, friendly, and calm under pressure. These nursing professionals are under enormous pressure, and are managing it with skill.
On behalf of our community, a huge thank you for your work.
Karina Sanson-Fisher, Newcastle
WE NEED CRUISE CONTROLS
CRUISE ships need to do better in their prevention of infections
The spread of the COVID-19 virus via cruise ship passengers ('Elective surgery off as Ruby Princess cases lift Hunter's tally', Newcastle Herald 24/3) has highlighted again, that cruise ships are breeding grounds for all manner of infections. On a two-week cruise, a stomach bug or a cold is accepted as a normal rite of passage.
This shouldn't be. Prevention is far more pleasant than catching bugs and cheaper than diagnosis, isolation and treatment ('Drive-thru clinic opens as cases rise', Herald 21/3).
I believe cruise companies must do better than they are currently doing at preventing infections. All check-in passengers should be screened more rigorously. Those who have infections should not come on board. They should be offered upgrades on future cruises. Ship air conditioners should be improved so that they filter out airborne viruses. Crew members should be more proactive and vigilant. They should offer masks and tissues to infected passengers.
Any infected passengers should be confined to their cabins and given room service and compensation. Gloved crew members should serve passengers at buffets. All lifts and banisters on stairs should be more regularly disinfected.
Cruise ship medicos should not charge anything to treat passengers with colds and gastric bugs, since these are normally picked up on the ships themselves.
Geoff Black, Caves Beach
OPPORTUNITY IN CRISIS
AUSTRALIA and humanity more broadly faces possibly the biggest health crisis it has ever seen. There will be unfathomable pain and loss. This will be accompanied by equally devastating economic pain and loss. This economic shock has the potential to bring a second shock upon the healthcare system as large scale unemployment brings with it a raft of additional social and associated health issues.
The government will have to act quickly and spend a large amount of political capital if it is to avoid this. They will, however, afford the opportunity for something of an economic reset to underpin new, long term, growth and success. Two options they might consider are a wholesale rewriting of the awards system to reduce complexity and make it easier for businesses to hire and pay people. They should also, against every fibre in their many of their bodies, fully embrace and work with the alternative energy sector as a long term provider and thousands of new jobs.
The immediate future has its priorities but there is much for us to look at as we come out the other side.
Eamon Sloane, Canberra
MORE THAN JUST A HANDY TIP
I WAS in a Hunter supermarket last Friday. As I waited in the line (there were four people before me) I observed the two checkout women had a large container of alcohol hand gel to the side of them mostly to the back of them. Neither woman used the gel in between customers. When I got to the checkout, I asked the woman if she wouldn't mind using the gel and I added I had noted she hadn't used it between customers. I was informed it wasn't necessary for her to do this. I informed her she really needs to, as we are in the middle of a pandemic.
I went to the service desk and spoke with the supervisor. She informed me it is not deemed necessary to clean between customers. It is up to the person on the checkout to make the decision when her hands require cleaning and/or if the customer "looks like" she would need to clean her hands.
I am a registered nurse and am totally appalled. I have been to several other shops, saw the same behaviours and received similar comments back when I enquired why. I will say the young girl in one shop did say they are told to clean between customers, but they get busy and can't do it. Their hand gel was way out of reach.
Rhonda Hayward, Cardiff
ADMIT, LEARN FROM MISTAKES
IT was fascinating to see MPs in question time on Monday struggling to drop waffling and promotion of their own parties to avoid criticising the other side and just speak plainly and concisely. They are trying and doing well, yet I've noted them hesitating still to give up rights to criticise the other side after the crisis is over.
Leaders and experts are human and mistakes have been made in recent weeks. In some cases we won't know until much later the consequences of the decision. We all know there's no point in criticising what's happened now, so we just focus on learning from mistakes and doing better. It may be too much to expect leaders to acknowledge mistakes, but I think this would help build public trust.
The major party leaders should issue a joint statement saying that not now and after the crisis there will be no resort to retrospective criticism of decisions made. Rather, I think they should commit instead to everyone learning from errors and ensuring we are much better prepared for such events in future. This would help us then and, more importantly, now.
Kevin Fell, Cooks Hill
THE RISKS MAY SPAN WIDER
WE are told that the elderly are very much at risk when it comes to COVID-19. But what age do you have to be to be elderly?
People in their 30s think people who are in their 50s are old, and when you are in your 50s you think people who are in their 70s are old. None of us really like to think we are old.
Many in public life, like politicians and those in high profile jobs as well actors and singers, kid themselves about age. Make-up and hair dye cover lines and grey hair. They change the way the public sees us and how we see ourselves.
Along with the elderly those with lung conditions, diabetes, heart problems, cancer, cystic fibrosis, smokers, consumers of alcohol, those on poor diets and the homeless must also I imagine be at greater risk. These cover a wide range of ages but are rarely mentioned.
This means that so many more people than we are told are at risk of serious complications and even death because of the virus. This could be why many are not taking precautions like frequent hand washing and social distancing.
Julie Robinson, Cardiff
SHARE YOUR OPINION
Email email@example.com 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.
IF you were wondering how you can help health care professionals, here's a tip. When you see us do not recoil in mock fear. I know you mean it as a joke, but honestly, if everyone I see over the coming months reacts this way, it might be the thing that brings me undone. Health care professionals are doing their best to look after the community and protect themselves. How about asking us how we are?
Dr Cathryn Wilson, Lambton
BRAD Hill (Short Takes, 21/3) you baffle me. What has the coronavirus got to do with Australia's mining, farming and manufacturing industries? Absolutely nothing. The virus has everything to do with the eating of flesh. Yes, I believe it's the disgusting practice of eating living creatures that has been the catalyst behind ebola, bird flu, SARS and now COVID-19. And as for being a blessing in disguise, tell that to the people dying and the people who are losing their jobs and income. I knew even before I'd finished reading your rot you would somehow inject the climate into it. In my opinion you should be ashamed writing such a letter at this time.
Dan Kirkpatrick, Karuah
THE NRL, clubs and pubs close ('Game over', Newcastle Herald 24/3) yet skate parks, caravan parks and schools remain open. You have to laugh; time to get serious, me thinks. In the words of our only serious pollie, please explain.
Dennis Crampton, Redhead
THE release of the 2000 cruise ship passengers into the Sydney community from a ship with cases of coronavirus is criminal. In the years to come when we look back on this, will that be seen as the defining moment when we lost control?
John McDonald, The Hill
WITH some of the great minds of the world retired now in Newcastle, let's band together to work out how to avoid and destroy this dreaded virus instead of worrying how to contract it.
Bryn Roberts, New Lambton
FANTASTIC game on Sunday, Knights, well done, but we do need a goal kicker. I suppose this will be the end of the season. Nice to be on top.
Bill Slicer, Tighes Hill
THE patchy piecemeal approach to our crisis by the states reflects a 'national' strategy in disarray. Closing state borders makes me wonder how far we've progressed as a nation and what the federation actually means anymore.
John Butler, Windella Downs
TRYING to find toilet rolls at the moment is like seeking an honest politician.
Barry Reed, Islington
NINETEEN pages on the virus in Friday's edition, and another good dozen on Saturday. At this rate there'll be no trees left to make toilet paper.
Ray Cross, Morpeth
IF nothing else, this virus that has turned the planet upside down proves one thing: we are all the same, and we all need toilet rolls.