Pandemic we had to have

Teaching children hygiene lessons is very positive      1 June 2020

Gently paddling a surf ski in Swan River shallows near Mosman Park, the pristine shoreline beneath a bush escarpment is an indicator of the success our nation has had with the Keep Australia Beautiful campaign.

It is doubtful other city waterways would have virtually litter-free shores?

DAWN ACROSS THE NEAR PRISTINE SWAN RIVER WATERS OF MOSMAN PARK

So current government campaigns to wash your hands and to wave in acknowledgement of driver courtesy should be advanced and embraced.

Many already do these things but now is the time to convince others that this is good behaviour. Teaching the children through the education system is paramount.

Putting rubbish in bins and not throwing things overboard from boats sounds pretty obvious, right? But it took a national campaign to get it happening and, 30 years later, a reported 16,500 tonnes of rubbish is still collected nationally each year on Clean-Up Australia Day.

Ian Kiernan and Kim McKay co-founded the Clean-Up Australia campaign in 1989 and the benefits are being reaped. A whole generation of children have grown up being taught by their families, government advertising and educationalists to put litter in a bin and it shows.

Schools have undertaken recycling, water waste and racism lessons and these have been brought home to the parents and elders of our society, many of whom may have been happy as things were. Once the children get a bite into something, they are usually successful in convincing the older generations of their ‘wicked’ ways.

Western Australia can successfully parlay the outcome from school-based education of hygiene into tourism and health benefits.

Cleanliness and health are two other aspects tourism operators could promote.

The beauty and cleanliness of Perth city and, to a slightly less extent WA, is just one aspect which makes it a lure to international visitors and settlers.

The strict but successful handling of the Covid-19 pandemic by the current State Government has ensured WA is one of the healthiest places on earth.

We were reasonably healthy before but Covid-19 has produced horrific world figures to compare nations and their states. WA would sit very high on any table showing disease containment.

Add to this the cleanliness of our wider city – made even more so by the necessity to thoroughly wash our hands – and you have two further attractions to lure further population to our shores.

English is our first language; governments of all creeds are stable; real estate is relatively inexpensive; the beaches are pristine; education is widely available; the weather is superb; the food fresh and the people’s nature friendly. All are major attractions.

Statistically, the results are already showing. In the corresponding week last year (31 May 2019), The West Australian reported that “…WA recorded its worst ever week for patients taking themselves to hospital emergency departments suffering from respiratory viruses.

“The Health Departments latest Virus Watch report for the week ending May 26 shows a sharp increase in people suffering viruses such as the flu, colds and bronchiolitis.

“The 799 respiratory viruses cases in a single week was the most ever seen in the States EDs — and winter only starts today,” the story ran.

This year, the numbers have fallen dramatically.

At the week ending 19 May 2019 more than 100 people presented with influenza types and sub-types. At 17 May 2020 the same site reported: “None of the routine PathWest influenza samples tested positive for the fourth week in a row.” That’s zero.

By 30 June 2019 the number had risen to nearly 500 presentations. What they might be on 30 June 2020 will make interesting reading. SEE GRAPHS ADDED LATER AT END OF THIS POST

Social distancing won’t last forever and neither will border closures so the figures are not akin to typical conditions but we have learned a lot from the Covid-19 pandemic and benefits arising from it should be promoted.

Seen in a cold light, Covid-19 may be the pandemic we had to have? Our citizens have smartened up their hygiene standards which will positively affect their lives and those of their precious families. This is good for all of us, including governments.

Health savings will be forthcoming by taking and keeping hygiene to a high level. These monetary savings will be crucial to all governments, especially in this decade.

To 28 June 2020

FROM THE WA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH WEBSITE

If your eyesight is not very good, the line you are looking for on both graphs is purple.

In the second graph the purple line is running along the bottom row after heading to near zero on the 15th week of the year (6-12 April) and staying there until the 26th week (22-28 June 2020).

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