Prioritise emergency workers for testing

Vintage Cathy WilcoxCredit:Vintage Cathy Wilcox

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THE PANDEMIC

Prioritise emergency workers for testing

I am a nurse with 38 years experience, and never have I seen things in hospitals this bad. We have students filling in for fully trained staff, and we are swamped. To add to our woes, when one of us comes down with COVID symptoms, the delays in getting a test are now so critical we are keeping nurses at home for days longer than necessary.

We desperately need priority PCR testing for healthcare and first responder staff so we can get back out there and look after everyone. One ambo had to wait more than three days to get a test. This was three days when they could not work, all the while when demand for ambulances reached a peak. During the lockdowns, supermarkets arranged priority by opening early for emergency workers. Why can’t we do this at our testing sites?
Tony Birchill, Springvale

Why didn’t Victoria prepare for this surge in cases?

The surge in coronavirus cases was entirely predictable once Omicron appeared and restrictions were lifted. Thankfully the majority of people who catch the virus will only experience a mild to moderate form of COVID-19 illness – due to our very high vaccination rates which prepare our immune system to fight the virus and the fact that this strain appears less severe than previous strains.

However, a small but significant percentage of people will need hospital care or even treatment in ICU. For the last two years, Victorians have endured significant deprivations to buy time for the Andrews government to get our health system ready for this surge. Tragically, there is no evidence that it boosted capacity at all, and as a result, Victorians’ lives are now at risk.
Dr Stephen Carbone, Thornbury

Paying the price for the push to ’small government’

Successive governments, state and federal, have been seduced by the idea of small government. Departments, including health, have been gutted, millions of taxpayer dollars are spent on consultants, and this is the result.
Patricia Green, Glen Waverley

We’ve opened up but at the cost of our health

Our “health” ministers have seemingly lost the plot when it comes to any semblance of looking after the health of their citizens, as opposed to looking after the “health” of the economy. Rather than opening up, for many of us it is now too risky to go anywhere because no one knows where the virus is, where it is being spread and by whom. Staying at home is far safer.
Ian Young, Glen Waverley

Public health crisis needs coordinated management

Scott Morison’s approach to the distribution of rapid antigen tests is misplaced capitalism. It will lead to an unregulated market and price gouging. I purchased four testing kits for $15 each at a chemist. After opening one, I found there were no instructions. I called the chemist and was told the instructions were on YouTube. Still no success.

After some research, l found the tests had not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for personal use. I returned them to the chemist for a refund and pointed out what l had discovered. Their response was the tests were delivered by mistake.

We have a public health crisis that requires coordinated management. We need clear government policies that can provide equitable access to testing. Not an invitation for chemists to gouge the public with whatever they can get away with.
Sharon Hendon, Glen Iris

An urgent plea for our state to tighten the rules

Please, Martin Foley, follow the advice of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton. The health system is crumbling. Your tweaking of the rules is welcome but we need even tighter restrictions to protect our workers and ourselves. Also more resources for PCR and rapid antigen tests, a redefinition of contacts and more contact tracing. There will be no one left to work in hospitals soon – and those who are left will leave.
Bronwyn Brown, Templestowe

THE FORUM

Creating a better world

The media is encouraging us to be a selfish, whingeing pack of humans. Currently it is all about who is to blame for the shortage of rapid antigen tests and the queues for PCR testing. The pandemic is part of mother nature’s rage at the mess we have created on our planet. We cannot expect governments to cure all the problems (although leadership would be nice).

It is up to us all to be mindful and kind to our fellow humans, and aware of every step to avoid waste and lead sustainable lives in the hope our young can enjoy the simple, natural joys that people of my generation have taken for granted. Let us try to move on lightly from the pandemic, imagining a new world that each of us can work hard at making a better place.
Libby Gillingham, Mornington

When you stop listening

The COVID-19 horse has well and truly bolted. Our feckless leaders with their unilateral, non-scientific decisions have rendered case numbers useless as they will reflect a rapidly diminishing minority of true cases.

Testing of any sort will soon be pointless except for symptomatic individuals. Scott Morrison and Dominic Perrottet in particular have taken us from best to worst in the world in terms of COVID-19 response success. This is what happens when you stop listening to those who actually know something about it.
Paul Kertes, Park Orchards

RATs in the hands of GPs

Symptoms of COVID-19 are wide and parallel other serious diseases. The usual physical consultation between a GP and unwell patient is in decline. That brings risks of misdiagnosis and late diagnosis.

Governments must supply accredited general practices with rapid antigen tests at the volume needed to facilitate a return to the usual process of care – ie, the doctor taking a history, doing an examination, ordering and checking an appropriate test, making a diagnosis and instigating management and treatment. Not every patient has COVID-19.
Dr Gordon Wallace, Boronia

Looking to the future

What scientific breakthroughs are required to prevent future pandemics and how do we fund and build that knowledge?
David Bignell, Hawthorn East

We’ve lost Djokovic …

Congratulations to the “holier than thou” brigade. Socially Novak Djokovic may be a pain. But professionally he is a superb tennis player. Now, thanks to public outrage, it is highly unlikely that we will get to see his magic. This is justice? The hell it is.
Venise Alstergren, Toorak

… but he’s not at fault

I read this week of the outrage afforded tennis great Novak Djokovic. Surely he is blameless here: he asked for, and was given, an exemption. Not for the first time our leaders have embarrassed us on the world stage.
Grant Lewis, Mount Martha

Vax queries? Big deal

What is this nonsense that Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley spouts about respecting the privacy of tennis players’ vaccination status? Every time I go to the shops, the gym, a restaurant, I have to reveal mine. So will every person who attends the Australian Open.
Val Young, Balwyn

The PM for NSW

Whilst I approve the tough words regarding Novak Djokovic (probably the only thing the Prime Minister has done that I approve of), I wonder if his reaction would have been the same if the Australian Open were to be held in New South Wales?
Louis Roller, Fitzroy North

Contempt for Aussies

The thing is, Novak Djokovic does not have any empathy for us in Melbourne who have been enduring and holding on to kindness for each other. Nor does he care what we think about him. He wants to win his 21st grand slam, surpassing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It is all about his ego. He will take his winnings (if he does play) and his “all about me” attitude and forever be remembered for sticking his nose up at us.
Margot Sharman, Carlton

Unfair to blame Novak

The hate-filled rhetoric directed at Djokovic is a terrible advertisement for Australia and grossly misplaced. He did not grant himself a medical exemption. The Andrews government did. Those complaining about how their freedoms have been curtailed should direct their anger at Daniel Andrews and his restrictions.
Jeremy Browne, Ripponlea

A Serbian vote winner?

I note that the next Serbian parliament and presidential elections are due in April.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

The figures that matter

The public’s (and media’s) current obsession with one individual’s vaccination status is Orwellian and creepy. When did it become the norm to expect to have intimate knowledge of a stranger’s medical situation? Surely we can aim to be a society in which people are not constantly, and small-mindedly, monitoring and policing one another like this.

We have extremely high vaccination rates and, according to tennis officials, “vaccination rates among the ATP and WTA playing bodies are at least 95 per cent” (The Age, 6/1). Surely these rates are the salient point in the interests of public health.
Amber McQueen, Hurstbridge

If it weren’t COVID-19 …

And if a grand slam tournament were to be played in a place where yellow fever or cholera vaccinations were required, would a medical exemption be sufficient to gain a visa?
Andrew Moloney, Frankston

Rules are straightforward

Australian Border Force justice has been applied, rules are rules. Over many months it was quite evident that Novak Djokovic was not prepared to reveal the depth of his vaccination exemption to anyone. Wealth and celebrity status certainly does not apply on this occasion.
Nigel Beresford, Drouin

A convenient scapegoat

Trailing in the polls, Scott Morrison is desperately looking for an issue to gain momentum. Is Novak Djokovic his “Tampa” where, instead of desperate refugees, as used by former prime minister John Howard, a champion tennis player is a pawn in his game, or just another “look over there” distraction to take our minds off COVID-19?
Greg Critchley, Williamstown

A lesson in grammar

I did enjoy your correspondent’s comments about the importance of correctly using words in our beautiful language (Letters, 6/1). However, the last sentence – “It conveys in simpler language the same sort of meaning to you and I” – should have been “you and me”.
Jenny Zimmerman, Woodend

Clarifying activation

Driving into Dunkeld this week we saw a sign, “Side road activated”. We proceeded cautiously, scanning the roadside for anything “active”. Shortly after we went round a curve was an intersection, which it seems is what the sign referred to. Can someone please send VicRoads a plain English manual?
John Hannon, Brunswick

An important alliance

Emma Shortis questions the value of the US alliance to Australia (Opinion, 5/1). Her argument overstates the impact of recent unsettling events in the US’ domestic affairs. American history is replete with inspiring highs and dispiriting lows. But its political institutions have endured over more than two centuries which included a civil war and the enduring gains of the 1960s civil rights movement.

Shortis laments the US presidency, “an office that already has too much power”. Yet the same edition of The Age reports how Congress is currently constraining Joe Biden’s agenda.

Over the past 80 years, the benefits of our alliance with the US have outweighed the costs. Our interests in this region are basically aligned. Moreover neutrality for Australia (large land area, small population) would be prohibitive given the massive increase in defence spending required. For now a continuation of the US alliance would seem the most prudent course.
Ian Le Page, Ivanhoe East

Blindly following the US

I guess it follows that if a Wall Street titan (Ray Dalio) says the United States will be the next empire to decline – (Business, 4/1) – Australia will go all the way with the USA.
Anne Kruger, Rye

Where money should go

The federal government has committed $316.5 million to developing Ngurra, a “place of national pride and significance” on Ngunnawal land beside Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. The lake was created by damming the waters of the Molonglo River. It is situated on what was the Molonglo River flood plains.

This latest monument to political posturing within coo-ee of the lavishly funded war memorial, will stand, ironically, beside what could be described as a poisoned waterhole. A legacy of gold mining on the Molonglo River is leaching of highly acidic water from historic gold mine tailings dumps. It contains heavy metals and arsenic, among other pollutants.

The telling of truth would be a novel experience, if not a “significant moment” for Canberra and its lake. But for $316.5 million, a lot could be done to restore the ecology of traditional lands and the river flowing through it.
Max Thomas, Kew

Not leading by example

The Pope says that having pets instead of babies is selfish and the decision to be childless “diminishes us, takes away our humanity” (The Age, 6/1). That is a bit rich coming from an old, celibate bloke.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills

Doomed at the polls

Here we go again. No foresight, no planning, no idea and no way this government will get another term at the election.
Mayda Semec, Brighton East

AND ANOTHER THING

Djokovic

Where are Pistol and Boo when Novak needs their doggy, moral support?
Jacky Abbott, Korumburra

If only he’d been an au pair, he wouldn’t have had visa problems.
Anne Rogan, Greensborough

Serve us another one, Novak. Your exemption fell short.
Dawn Evans, Geelong

Advantage Australia.
Steve Haylock, Mount Waverley

I can’t wait to see the next episode of Channel 7’s Border Security.
Tony Danino, Wheelers Hill

We Australians care about our health situation, Novak, not how many grand slams you’ve won.
Margaret Sullivan, Caulfield North

Does Novak claim tennis elbow for his medical exemption?
Dr James Casey, Richmond

It’s a good thing Djokovic was turned around. He might have brought COVID-19 into the country.
Michael Puck, Maffra

There is no vaccine for arrogance. No wonder he got an exemption.
Margaret Joss, Glen Iris

Welcome to the Park Hotel, Novak. It’s where all our VIPs hang out.
Paul Gleeson, Ocean Grove

The Djoker got aced.
John Fife, Box Hill South

COVID-19

Morrison says we have to “ride the wave”. Voters who were dumped by this wave are likely to return the favour.
Peter Thomas, Pascoe Vale

We have freedom now, Mr Kelly. What do you reckon about the COVID-19 case numbers?
Barbara Bereznicki, Dingley Village

Nearly 22,000 cases yesterday. Where is Daniel Andrews?
Ivan Gaal, Fitzroy North

Is the price-gouging and lack of rapid tests a public health response or “can-do capitalism”?
Eugene White, Alphington

Jacinta Allen, Pandora has well and truly escaped the box.
Sam Bando, St Kilda East

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