Showing all posts tagged: pandemic

COVID-19: third most lethal cause of death in Australia

10 July 2024

From The Daily Aus. Aside from being linked to a slight decrease in life expectancy, COVID-19 was the third highest cause of death in Australia in 2022, claiming almost ten-thousand lives:

COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in Australia in 2022, according to AIHW. It was the first time in more than 50 years that an infectious disease has appeared in the top five causes of death.

COVID deaths were four times higher in 2022, compared to 2021. As a comparison, three-hundred-and-eight “influenza-associated” deaths were reported between 1 January and 9 October 2022.

Heart disease and dementia, respectively, were the top two causes of death in 2022. COVID may not dominate the conversation, as it did two or three years ago, but that has not diminished its severity in the least.



Personal responsibility the only foil to Covid and long Covid

14 November 2022

Medical professionals are calling for more work from home mandates to combat the present surge in Covid infections in Australia. But the strain a new load of cases would impose on the health system is only one of their concerns. There is also the worry of an increase in instances of long Covid, something that becomes more likely, the more often someone is infected by Covid, says Dr Michael Bonning, NSW president of the Australian Medical Association.

“The risk of long COVID for everyone is really there and the more often you get infected, the higher your chances,” Bonning said. “[It doesn’t matter if] you’ve had it once and it was fairly mild.”

But Australian governments are reluctant to re-impose Covid mandates, saying Australians must take “personal responsibility” and “learn to live with Covid”. While this is true, I’m not sure Covid, as opposed to possibly the flu or common cold, is something we can really afford to live with, particularly if it leads to long Covid.

Long Covid, which can last for two months, some times longer, sees sufferers experience symptoms including extreme fatigue, cough, breathlessness, joint or muscle pain, chest pain, memory and concentration problems, and reduced appetite and weight loss, among other things. That’s not something to look forward to.

But then again, neither are lockdowns, or other restrictions. While they saw short term success, infection rates generally saw a decline, Covid returned once restrictions were removed. Covid has us in a bind. To live as normally as possible, free of Covid and long Covid, and restrictions, personal responsibility is one of the few options we have. But for “personal responsibility” to be effective, everyone has to do the right thing.

At its most basic, this means mask wearing where crowds are present, keeping up to date with Covid vaccinations, and isolating if infected. Covid is a slippery beast, and has had us marching to its beat for three years. The only real hope is an effective treatment is forthcoming, that will eventually eliminate the disease all together.



Casual and on-demand workers feel forced to work if unwell

6 November 2022

Covid has not gone away. In fact there are concerns a new wave of infections may be building. And while those who have the means — including people who can work from home — may be able to stay out of Covid’s way, not all workers are so fortunate. Especially vulnerable are casual and gig-economy workers. If they don’t show for work, they don’t get paid. There is a fear some of these people will nonetheless choose to work, even if they have Covid, simply because they have no choice.

A recent survey conducted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, found almost forty-percent of casual workers go to work if they are injured or unwell:

It found 37 per cent of workers in insecure jobs — including contractors, casuals, part-time and gig-economy workers — say they’ve worked while injured. Labor market economist Leonora Risse agrees it’s a big problem — and it extends to workers who turn up at work when sick. “We’ve always had some degree of insecure work in the workforce, but this is shining a light on the need to address it,” she says. Dr Risse says that employers may need their workers, but they also need them to be healthy.

I’m not sure what plans Australian governments have if there were to be another major surge in Covid cases, but it seems like lockdowns, and emergency payments for workers stricken with Covid, are off the table. But people feeling compelled to go work, so as to keep a roof over their head? This cannot end well.

Update: Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s chief medical officer, confirmed in a television interview this morning that Covid infections have increased in the past week.



COVID infection may result in long term cognitive decline

28 June 2022

A specialist medical team at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia, have been monitoring the health of one hundred and twenty-eight people who were infected with the original COVID-19 Alpha strain in the early months of 2020.

Study participants experienced varying degrees of infection, with a small number requiring hospitalisation. But the findings of the study — to date — are unsettling to say the least.

Around one quarter of the ADAPT study’s participants were experiencing noticeable cognitive decline a year after getting COVID. And, some sort of cognitive decline was recorded in almost all of the participants, regardless of the severity of the initial infection. “When we look over time, across the 12 months of the study, we see that even the people who have performance within a normal expectation do also have a mild cognitive decline,” says neuropsychologist and associate professor Lucette Cysique.

However, Dr Cysique noted that in most cases cognitive decline was mild, and few people would notice, unless they found themselves in a “very cognitively demanding situation.”

I’m not sure I find that particularly reassuring. COVID strikes me as being a disease best avoided. If that is at all possible.



Artists incomes takes a hit from the COVID pandemic

16 October 2021

A lot of people have been doing it tough as a consequence of the COVID pandemic, and its impact on jobs. But artists incomes, which often hover mere dollars above the poverty line at the best of times, have had a particularly difficult time, says Anna Freeland, writing for the ABC.

According to new research conducted by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA), one in two visual artists experienced an income decline of between 20–100 per cent last financial year. A sobering four in five artists and one in two arts workers earned less than $25,000 over the year, which is more than $100 a week below the poverty line for a single person with no dependents. “That figure of $25,000 may be a misnomer in itself if people are being paid a fee for commissions and those commissions are being delayed, which has happened to artists for over a year,” says NAVA Co-Director Mimi Crowe.

And from Freeland on Twitter: arts audiences are getting jabbed at a faster rate than the general population. Arts audiences includes artists’ patrons. Hopefully this bodes well for artists planning to exhibit in the near future, when lockdowns wind back.