We might be in the middle of a pandemic but in Toowoomba we are celebrating the Carnival of Flowers. The Spring weather is perfect, and Toowoomba has put out the welcome mat to visitors. In Queensland we are in this position because of early lockdown restrictions and the border closure.
A visit to Queens Park Botanic Gardens
Yesterday my One & Only (O&O) and I visited Queens Park Botanic Gardens. He suggested we take a picnic lunch. But given the crowds I had seen in the park, two days earlier when driving past, I proposed we picnic at home.
While wandering around the park I was surprised as I did not see one person wearing a mask. But everyone was mostly doing the right thing, keeping in their own small groups, social distancing and using the pop-up hand sanitising stations. Yet, it was difficult to keep away from others as the park was blooming with people, besides blooming with flowers.
While we were walking in the park an announcement came over a loudspeaker. We were given a warning about social distancing. Therefore, we got to practice our coronavirus dance steps. Promenade forward, then a little do-si-dos as we sidestepped others. I concluded that Queenslanders, trapped within State walls, had come from afar to enjoy Toowoomba. And it is looking its absolute best this Spring.
While in the park I thought of the people of Victoria. I am sure Victorians would love to take the trip north to Queensland if they were not in lockdown.
Managing the coronavirus
The commentary from media and the public about how politicians are managing the coronavirus is widespread in newspaper, television and on social media. Everyone has an opinion. But mostly they have an opinion without the responsibility or any accountability for public health or the health of the economy.
One opinion piece this week came from Chris Uhlmann, Nine News Political Editor. Amongst other observations he reminds us that the majority of deaths in Australia are in residential aged care. Therefore, if sensible precautions were taken managing aged care facilities everyone else could get on with their lives. Uhlmann believes the Victorian government are preferring the old over the young.
Pandemic lessons from history
I read an article in the National Geographic (March 27, 2020) about the 1918 Spanish Flu and how cities in the USA flattened the curve. Epidemiologists and virologists reviewed historical events from 1918-1920 and their research papers were published in the 2007 Journal of the American Medical Association.
Their research showed that cities who introduced preventative measures early in the Spanish Flu pandemic had fifty percent fewer deaths. The most effective measures to manage the panademic were the closure of schools, theatres, churches, and the banning of public gatherings.
Stephen S. Morse is his 2007 article explains that the world was more vulnerable due to increased urbanization. Today in 2020, people are more vulnerable to the virus when they live in a high-density city. We have seen what has happened in Sydney and in Melbourne. These are the cities most affected by the coronavirus infection outbreaks in Australia.
If we adopt the lessons from history, we will be better off. Lockdowns are effective in reducing the spread of coronavirus. Without such interventions infections multiply exponentially. While the young may not always die as a result of the virus, they still need testing if they have symptoms and medical care. The more young people that catch the infection the more pressure there is on the health care system.
As is now unfolding in the United Kingdom medical services are struggling to manage the demand for testing. Opening up a city too early can create a situation that is out of control. In Morse’s article he tells us that the timing of interventions is especially critical. Cities that put measures in early and maintained these longer reduced the death rates by approximately half.
Uhlmann concludes his articles with ‘Rejoice. Dan Andrews [Victorian Premier] has destroyed the village to save it.’ But is Uhlmann failing to see what makes up the village? It is the people. Without the people there is no village. Also, is he failing to see the resilience of individuals, the resilience of our nation?
My lesson from my walk in the park
My walk in the park yesterday told me that people are resilient. Australians will bounce back from the limitations imposed by the coronavirus. People, given a safe place will emerge as before. Like the bees in the park people are swarming around Toowoomba and embracing all the City has to offer.
People are spending money and boosting the economy. This will happen soon in Melbourne and regional Victoria. Lives may be different, but Aussies and the government will give a helping hand to those who suffered, who experienced loss, who are under economic pressure as a result of the virus. It is not easy, but we are finding our way out of the pandemic.
My opinion is that Australia will bloom once more. History tells us the story. We recover, we survive and we thrive. Just like the flowers in the gardens, this year in Toowoomba – blooming lovely.