周一我與維州疫情總指揮Jeroen Weimar與署理首席衛生官Ben Cowie 開會談及少數族裔, 在面對感染人數大幅飃升, 對抗疫方向帶來的影響。我指出自實施開放政策後, 年底聖誕及新年, 出現感染個案以幾何級數上升。全國各州檢測機制及測試裝備不足, 引致數以百萬計的感染者或密切接觸者幾經辛苦, 很多仍無法取得測試結果, 以致怨聲載道。
大量的醫療護理人員、運輸工人、餐館從業員、超級巿場工人及商店售貨要面對檢測及隔離, 令到社會癱瘓及生活供應出現短缺。聯邦及州政府急忙改變檢測政策, 並且對緊急服務人員實施更有彈性的隔離措施, 讓更多人可以繼續上班。這都顯示出聯邦及各州政府表現未如理想, 沒有為Omicron的超級傳播性, 作好準備。
我身邊的一些朋友及同事, 有受到感染的,不過由於都已經接種了疫苗, 絕大多數人在一、兩天的輕微徵狀出現, 如咳嗽及喉嚨痛過後, 都很快就好了。令他們最難以接受的, 並不是病得辛苦, 而是排隊進行檢測及搶購快速抗原測試而又無處購買的徬徨。這些人不約而同指出, 從他們的經驗, 新冠病毒(至少今天的Omicron變種毒株)並不可怕。其實這只是因為他們都已經接種了兩劑疫苗或加強劑, 受到疫苗保護。這些朋友開始質疑政府的抗疫措施, 是否只是擾民。
有這種想法的人, 每天都在增加。不過現時仍有少數的, 在感染新冠病毒後, 可能是Delta或其它毒性高的變種, 出現嚴重的病情, 甚至死亡。這一群人將會是現時澳洲社會要面對的最大困難。我向Jeroen及Ben問及如何可以向少數族裔詳細講解複雜的疫情? 教育社會大眾去認識及明白, 他們都表示要社會極多的努力及資源, 才能做得到。
我相信聯邦及州政府要撥出更多資源, 給多元文化媒體, 做好資訊教育及宣傳的工作。這將會是一場持久的戰爭, 是對抗新冠疫情不能忽略的一環。
想像一下未來數周, 將會出現數以百萬計的新冠感染康復者, 他們根本不相信新冠病毒有甚麼可怕, 會導致社會完全忽視那些沒有或無法得到疫苗保護的人的處境, 會帶來多可怕的結果?
Fighting Covid is also a war about information
At a meeting on Monday, I discussed with Victorian Covid Commander Jeroen Weimar and Acting CHO Ben Cowie on the impact of the recent Covid surge on ethnic minority groups. I pointed out that the lifting of restrictions prior to the Christmas/New Year period had caused the exponential growth in infections, and that our failed testing system and provision had caused made up to a million of infected and their close contacts in chaos.
Many services and supply chains in the society has been disrupted by the mandatory isolation of workforce of the health system, transport and logistic industry, restaurant, supermarket and retail trading. The governments have since then regulated testing and isolation policies in order to alleviate the problem. This reflects the federal and state government have failed to prepare themselves for the super spreading of Omicron.
I have known contacts who got infected but only suffered minor symptoms because they were fully vaccinated. To them, the most unbearable were not the symptoms but the hardship in getting tested both through queuing up for the PCR and hunting for the RAT. Their experience also tells that the recent wave of Omicron strain might not be that threatening, as in they were fully vaccinated/ boosted, thus they tend to doubt whether the government has been adopting an unnecessary strategy in the handling.
Despite this growing sentiment, there are still cases from the Delta or another strain which can be fatal or cause serious illness. This could be a dilemma to the government and the society. I asked Jeroen and Ben how to explain the complication of the issue to the ethnic minorities, they knew that it would take considerable effort and resource to educate the public on this front.
I think the federal and state governments must direct more resources on this education ad publicity via the multicultural media. This is part of an on-going battle and must not be neglected.
Imagine over the coming weeks there would be millions of people well recovering from Covid playing down the alert as needed, thus putting those vulnerable and unvaccinated in very high risk.
Mr. Raymond Chow, Publisher