Interview By: Ivan Leung, Story By Taylah Hanna
As the state welcomes the four stage plan to freedom with open arms, and with stage two in commencement today – we sat down with WA Chief Health Officer, Dr Andrew Robertson, to discuss the way forward and how Western Australia will best navigate a Coronavirus free future.
Normalcy slowly returning offers a sense of relief for all Western Australians, however there are risks involved if we push too hard, too fast.
Dr Robertson explained the rules are there to protect not only ourselves, but to also protect family, friends and other members of the community.
“The biggest risks are that we will have the disease introduced back into the community, or we may have outbreaks related to other cases,”
“No system is perfect… No border controls are perfect… and as people are mixing more there’s a larger risk of bigger outbreaks, so we need to manage that going forward, otherwise we run the risk of another second wave,” Dr Robertson said.
Further restrictions will be considered if another outbreak hits.
However, lifting the restrictions in a staggered way will be beneficial.
Stage One already saw border restrictions lift, allowing travel and the ability to catch up with friends and family.
Dr Robertson said Stage Two focuses on getting back to our normal lives, like eating at a cafe or restaurant, exercising, going to work where possible.
And while small businesses will benefit from the 20 person limit, some larger businesses are frustrated they cannot return to business as usual as soon as others.
Depending on the success from the next few weeks ahead, Stage Three could be introduced next month.
So what does the future look like?
“We’ve got it under control not only in WA, but largely across the country, and obviously we’re in a better position than many other counties, but the virus has not gone…”
“It’s still evident around the world, so we’re in a position where we need to open up society and get it back to working, without any further significant outbreaks,” Dr Robertson commented.
With over 1,900 tests conducted in WA last Tuesday, increases to testing will continue.
Dr Robertson said they’re not assuming there’s no virus out there, as it only takes once case to come back in and start spreading again.
“We need to identify those cases,”
“This isn’t over yet…” he said.
The measures already in place, around personal hygiene and social distancing, have seen an amazing effect on respiratory viruses, not only Covid-19, but also the lowest levels of influenzas are being recorded.
“It’s obviously working, but that can be undone,”
Dr Robertson advises the public not to become complacent.
He said we need to keep working to get the balance between working in a functional society, while not allowing this virus to get away from us.
This will be the key focus for the Department of Health and many other agencies until we have a real solution in the form of effective treatments or an effecting vaccine.