After Five Weeks

My beard after five weeks … back to clean shaven now because the “experiment” is over.

By Warren Nunn

If lockdown because of the global Wuhan coronavirus pandemic means changing routine, why not let my beard grow?

Perhaps this is somewhat trivial but it’s one way of recording what happened in my life.

The first week was marked by lots of telephone conversations with family members and friends and setting up a video conversation via my phone with several others at the same time.

I usually have coffee Sunday mornings before church with brothers from my congregation. This past Sunday (29 March) we had “coffee” via video chat.

It was a good way of sharing and catching up and is something worth continuing.

I have walked every day, varying the distances and routes I take. Many others are doing the same and it’s interesting to simply say hello to neighbours.

So that was the first week.

Small population, less risk

At this stage, Australia seems to be doing better at handling the pandemic than other more heavily populated nations.

That’s simple logic. We have a huge country and a very small population.

New York, one of the worst-affected cities, has 8 million plus people in about 800 sq km. That’s a density of about 10,000 people per 2 sq km (roughly, not aiming for highly accurate figures here).

Australia’s density, by comparison, is about six people for same area.

Of course, Australia’s cities have a much higher population density but the comparison is no less indicative.

Chalk message

Messages like this are becoming common as the younger generation reaches out to touch their communities in this uncommon time. This is in my street and I’ve seen similar messages elsewhere in the neighbourhood.

The high concentration of people in smaller areas means far more spread of this virus.

For Australia, the warning is that the coming cooler weather could bring another spike in cases and victims.

But the trend is really encouraging and speaks well of Australians pulling together and heeding the scientific advice and limiting contact with others.

Two weeks on

During the second week of this extraordinary time in history, I had an email from a friend in Paris who, only several weeks ago, was staying with me here in Brisbane.

Although I knew the death toll was considerable, nothing brings it home more than the words of someone who’s part of it, and who lives within easy walking distance of the Louvre. His words follow:

Here it’s a real disaster … with now more than 500 deaths per day in hospitals alone (not including the number, unknown yet, from retirement homes). And the Government cannot yet get enough masks, gloves, gel for the medical corps alone. Already six doctors dead. Actually “oldies” of more than 65 years of age are NOT admitted anymore in hospitals. So mate, I feel so lucky now¬† .. yet so old.

That’s confronting, because my friend is beyond 70 and, of course, is more vulnerable than most. But, it’s the reality of what the world is experiencing.

For my part, I did a couple of delivery runs to help out family and a friend. Being blessed with good health is a privilege, but one I don’t take for granted.

Under the conditions the Queensland Government has put in place, I can visit a family member or friend. Of course, that could change.

After three weeks

Hopeful signs here in Australia as the infection rate seems to be on a decline. Elsewhere things are much worse, particularly in New York.

Three weeks ago I wrote an article, Coronavirus, Spanish flu and how diseases spread, in which I observed that it was logical to expect more deaths in densely populated areas.

To me, it was logical to come to that conclusion and authorities have since made similar statements.

It was tough not to be able to celebrate Easter with brothers and sisters in Christ. But, along with many other churches, we did so through online messages.

Our fellowship presented a most creative and innovative message about the Resurrection. I suspect few people have heard it so presented. I commend it to you.

It’s been a month already?

The pandemic restrictions are no doubt causing many headaches for families. My daughter has three children aged six, four and eight months and is brilliantly handling the extra demands.

As with most families, parents get creative. This extraordinary time is drawing people together which can’t be a bad thing.

As for the virus, Australia continues to benefit from the restrictions and is limiting the spread. The figures tell the real story.

Because numbers are falling, there’s talk now of lifting some restrictions. Some elective surgery will soon be rescheduled as the expected demand on specialist care did not happen.

New York continues to be the worst affected as America struggles to combat the spread.

Five weeks and the danger is over

Due to the excellent decision-making in Australia in particular, the pandemic has slowed to the point that restrictions will soon be eased.

It’ll be some time before the economy is back in full swing, but, at least, there is hope beyond this extraordinary event.

And what of my Paris friend? On 24 April I had an email from him that said, in part:

“Now I am in my 37th day in a row in the flat….without a foot outside! … otherwise it’s a big fine by police and army patrolling (here oldies of more than 65 years of age are not admitted anymore in hospitals)….

We had it easy here in Australia….