During 2020 and 2021 I did my best to keep readers up to date with how COVID-19 was impacting our industry. One of my most trusted sources for information was Coronacast with Dr Norman Swan and Tegan Taylor – I quoted them often.
After over 500 episodes Coronacast has come to an end. So is the COVID pandemic over as well? Actually, no. And here are some points from the final episode, and some thoughts on how we as an industry still have a responsibility to our workers, delegates and guests.
During the height of the pandemic we tuned in each morning as the state leaders released the daily updates on infections and deaths – this was later scaled back to weekly updates (without the media conferences). Now the federal government updates will be monthly because “this is no longer a communicable disease of national importance”.
However Swan warns, “the problem here is, you can understand why they’re trying to de-escalate this for one reason, which is that it reduces the bureaucratic load. But there are new subvariants emerging all the time, and if we’re not monitoring this… and we’re still in a pandemic mode, so this is still a pandemic, it’s not seasonal, it’s coming in waves, and predictably in waves. And if we turn our back to it, ignore it, a nasty variant could emerge, and we get caught napping.”
As to the latest report, “So in the last week of reporting, 23.6% increase in cases around Australia on a rolling seven-day average. WA, 43.7% increase, but off a low base.
Now, we don’t know really how many cases are in Australia because we’re not systematically monitoring this, it’s a combination of RATs and PCR testing. The more reliable measure is hospitalisations, which lag cases but hospitalisations were up on a weekly basis of 17.5%, so they’re up too. On a daily average basis there are about 1,200 people in hospital, 31 in ICU, and at the moment there are six or seven deaths per day.”
On booster shots
“So the recommendation from the advisory committee, ATAGI, is that if you’ve not had a COVID-19 infection or an immunisation in the last six months, you get a booster.”
The current federal government inquiry is of course looking for flaws in what the previous government did…
“…the recent inquiry is not actually looking into what the states did, they’re only looking at the federal response, and what the states did, arguably, since they ran services was more important than what the feds did.”
Finally, my take – prevention is better than cure. Although masks are still recommended they are now rarely seen. I am amused when I see people wearing masks outdoors when the real risk is indoors. Despite state governments not mandating the testing of airflows inside venues I believe that venue operators have a responsibility to keep their clients informed about how they are addressing airflow and quality. And I believe that venue hirers, PCOs and event managers also have responsibility to question the venue managers about how they are maintaining a safe working environment. The ubiquitous Hi-vis vests don’t protect you from airborne nasties.
Now that we have two national associations representing the event industry maybe they could get together and draw up guidelines for venues designed to protect the health of all who use them.
Listen to the final Coronacast episode (or read the transcript)