With over a million active cases in Australia, this is the question that preoccupies all Western Australians: what should I prepare for when the border opens on February 5 and COVID-19 enters. the community ?
Many of us know a friend or family member on the east coast who has contacted the virus, but although many medical experts have said that it is likely that all of us could possibly contract COVID, it is not inevitable.
Taking action to minimize the spread will ease the strain on our already failing healthcare system and help protect the vulnerable and immunocompromised.
The Australian Medical Association (WA) has published a guide on how to best prepare yourself and your household for the impacts of COVID-19.
“Hard borders and travel restrictions have protected WA from widespread community transmission of COVID so far,” AMAWA said.
“Western Australians need to adapt to live with COVID circulating in the community. “
To best prepare yourself, you should:
- Get fully immunized (two doses) and get a booster as soon as you are eligible
- Adopt good hygiene
- Prepare for the possibility of quarantine and isolation
- Identify your local healthcare facilities and the nearest COVID testing sites
- Get tested if you have symptoms or are identified as close contact
- Familiarize yourself with wearing a mask and physical distancing requirements
Vaccination is the best way to prevent serious illness and death from COVID
- Make sure everyone eligible in your household is fully immunized with an approved COVID-19 vaccine
- Make sure everyone who qualifies receives their reminder as soon as possible
- Search reliable and trustworthy websites and discuss any concerns or residual questions you have about the vaccine with your trusted GP
Good hygiene can reduce the spread of COVID
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. This includes before and after eating and after using the toilet
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when you can’t use soap and water. Alcohol-free hand sanitizers are not effective against COVID
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean and disinfect surfaces you use often such as countertops, desks and doorknobs
- Clean and disinfect items you use often such as cell phones, keys, wallets and work passes
- Increase the amount of fresh air by opening windows and making sure your air conditioning unit is running efficiently. For example, cleaning filters
At all times, be prepared for the possibility of quarantine and isolation
- Regularly check and maintain your household’s supply of medicines, including over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen
- Diarrhea can happen with COVID, electrolyte drinks can help maintain hydration, or plain lemonade if they are not available
- Symptomatic medications such as nasal sprays may reduce symptoms but will not change the course of the disease
- Keep a supply of disposable tissues and avoid using tissues
- Have a supply of masks and follow the instructions
- Rapid antigen testing (RAT) will become an important part of testing for COVID. Get some if you can access it for a reasonable price
- Pay attention to supplies of household items. If you need to self-isolate or quarantine, you or members of your household will not be able to leave your home
- Be aware of your food delivery options and maintain a supply of essential food and household items if you cannot leave your home or receive deliveries
- Identify a location in your home where a person who has COVID or who has been in contact with someone who has COVID can isolate themselves and be treated without direct contact
Identify your local healthcare facilities and the nearest COVID testing sites
- Take note of the WA Health COVID Advice Line – Dial: 13 COVID (13 268 43)
- Register the phone number of your GP and find out its after-hours availability. If you don’t have a regular GP, now is a great time to get one
- If you have private health insurance, check if you have ambulance coverage
- If you are in isolation, you can ask your family or friends to collect the prescriptions for you from your usual pharmacist or general practitioner. Chat with your networks to make sure you have someone who can help you when needed
- Have the number of your local emergency / emergency care provider, such as your local emergency department or nursing station
- Obtain more information as needed from reliable sources such as www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/COVID19 or www.gov.wa.au
Get tested if you have symptoms or are identified as close contact
Familiarize yourself with wearing a mask and physical distancing requirements
- The requirement to wear face masks in certain contexts may become mandatory and more widespread in WA. It is important that you remain aware of the requirements for wearing a face shield
- Always keep a supply of face masks for those occasions when you need to wear one.
- Advice on when to wear a face mask, how to dispose of a face mask, and how to reuse a sheet mask can be found at: https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus/ Face-masks