It is (kind of) official. The coronavirus pandemic is over. After more than 2 years of lockdowns, isolation and mandates, the US Health experts - at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC) - removed almost all remaining coronavirus restrictions there. As they said "there is significantly less risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic."
Most importantly, the new CDC guidance says that "unvaccinated people now have the same guidance as vaccinated people."
Australia has not caught up with this advice. We still uselessly prevent unvaccinated nurses and doctors from working, all while we have record shortages in our hospital system.
I had my own unscheduled interaction with the hospital system this month after a clumsy dive for a try at touch footy. It was all a bit of a blur but after failing to score I looked down to notice a rather large gash across my knee.
So off to the hospital for stitches. As usual the nurses and doctors were great but it was clear that they were overworked and understaffed.
While the wait for me was at no risk to my health, others might not be so lucky. There is no additional health risk of letting an unvaccinated nurse work. The vaccines do not stop transmission. Our obsession with COVID health risks is now hurting the health of others.
These staff shortages are also hurting all businesses. Every business I go to has issues with staff shortages. These businesses do not have mandates but they continue to lose staff to 7 day COVID isolation periods. The United Kingdom ended mandatory COVID isolation in January. Indeed, one of our cricketers helped us win a gold medal while playing COVID positive at the Commonwealth Games. Yet we still make healthy people stay home.
It is time we return to the old rule that if you are sick, stay home. If you have cold or flu symptoms rest and get better.
A friend told me the other day that her Mum in an aged care facility continues to be "locked down" for weeks every time there is a case. To visit her Mum she has to go through a biohazard type process that can take over an hour. She now just jumps the fence and has a tea with her Mum in her courtyard.
Why are we continuing to jail old people in the last years of their life sometimes against their will? We should just let people make their own decisions now about the well known risks of coronavirus.
It has been a remarkable few years to live through. Overall, Australia's response has been better than most countries but there is no doubt that we went overboard with extended lockdowns and widespread vaccine mandates.
Many people were harmed by these policies. Some people lost their small businesses and their life's work.
To respect their losses we must have a full inquiry into State and Federal Government coronavirus policies. Ideally, this would be a Royal Commission with the full powers to compel evidence from government officials.
The measures we took against the coronavirus had not been used for 100 years since the Spanish Flu. I hope that we do not have another pandemic for a century but there is no guarantee one won't return sooner.
The coronavirus pandemic has morphed into a coronavirus endemic that we are living with. Now is the time to take a cold, hard look at the decisions we made and learn from our mistakes lest they are repeated again.