Last night I watched the Sunday programme which concentrated on Covid 19 in Australia and New Zealand.
I wondered beforehand whether it was going to be a dramatic scaremongering propaganda piece. It was not by design, but it was by effect.
First we saw the tale of two New Zealanders who had been through a Covid infection and the effect it had on them.
Jenene Crossan was enlightening. A 42 year old entrepreneur who returned from overseas. She was fit and healthy and surprised by the infection and the force of it. She talked about the debilitating cough and the pain and the exhaustion and the fear of breathlessness.
She also talked about how she continues to be affected by the infection. From becoming allergic to dogs, to being continually tired and having a vicious cough that strikes from nowhere. This is the thing about viruses. They’re whole body experience. One of my friends died in his 40s of heart disease caused by damage from a tropical virus he caught in his 20s. Covid will live on long after the pandemic is over
Jenene Crossan was at great lengths to say that her Covid infection was not just a cold or flu but something far more violent. That tallies with one of my friends in France who has beaten the Covid. He is late 40s, a skier, an amateur mountaineer, a tramper, a fit man. He described Covid to me as trying to climb Mt Everest - without oxygen.
Another episode was fly on the wall coverage of a Melbourne Emergency Department dedicated to Covid patients.
It was a scene from a nuclear fallout apocalypse with all the PPE’s buzzing around. Doctors who were seeing the effect of the virus were telling the camera that this is not something to be underestimated.
But the take away that stuck with me is something we don’t mention often. Covid is so new there is no treatment for it. If you can’t fight it off yourself all we can do is calm you down and stick a hose down your throat to help you breathe. This is why the globe is so concerned. We can treat cancer, we can prevent car crashes, but Covid has no enemy or foe.
But the doctor at the centre of the piece gave me hope. With every case they’re learning more and bit by bit they’re learning how to fight this. The same way we learnt to make HIV non fatal.
And the final piece was on the total shambles that was the Melbourne isolation regime. It made our problems at the border seem trivial. At the heart of Melbourne’s problem was the private security force. By giving the power for sub contractor’s to hire it gave them a profit motive to hire as cheap as possible resulting in an untrained and ill prepared staff who took outrageous risks and that has been a city’s death sentence.
The provision of some public services by the private sector are always vulnerable to profit taking. We need look no further than Serco prisons in this country or the Public Private Partnership disaster that is Transmission Gully, now years late and half a billion over budget.
I thought it was an illuminating programme to remind us that complacence and underestimation of Covid is a fatal mistake and that will kill not just your people but your economy.