I was disturbed to read the headlines on the front page of the Sydney morning Herald, August 29, which stated:
“State braced for double-digit rises in cases” — the first paragraph stated that “health authorities fear that COVID-19 cases will remain in double figures for some time as Sydney’s CBD cluster swells. Really!? Does our society continually need to be whipped into a frenzy over a handful of cases from this infection. Using terms like “braced, swelled and health authorities fear” purely heightens the anxiety of the reader and certainly does not put any perspective to this illness.
If you ignore the Victorian debacle, since February there have been only 52 deaths in New South Wales from COVID-19 and six deaths in Queensland. Compare this to the 850 deaths last year in Australia in four months from influenza. We didn’t hear once on any news service last year that “there has been another tragic death of a 91-year-old in a high dependency nursing home from influenza”. For some reason, we accept these deaths as the expected consequence of a sick, elderly vulnerable person in a high dependency nursing home and don’t use terms like ‘tragic’, but this type of fear mongering is trotted out almost on a daily basis in regard to the coronavirus.
When the pandemic first hit Australia, I said on television that if people were that concerned with their health and security they should stop stockpiling toilet paper and start stockpiling fruit and vegetables and exercise equipment because one person dies every 12 minutes in this country from cardiovascular disease.
I’m not demeaning the death of anyone but equally it is important for all of us to realise that death is an inevitable consequence of being very old, very sick or severely immunocompromised. No one, including any so-called health authority, knows when this pandemic will end but until we stop peddling fear on a daily basis with updated news conferences from the health authorities, our ability to cope with the lockdowns, restrictions and general concern about the illness itself will be diminished and it is my view, which is shared by many experts in the area, that the collateral damage induced by all aspects of COVID-19 may even be worse than the disease itself.