Australia’s major cities saw huge turnouts in support of the Black Lives Matters movement over the weekend. While social distancing, good personal hygiene and wearing face masks were all undertaken to reduce the risk, it’s still sparked concern over potential coronavirus outbreaks just as Australia’s infection rate has dipped. Here’s what you need to know.
In support of the US’s Black Lives Matters movement and justice for Indigenous deaths in Australian custody, protests were held around the country with thousands of people showing up. In Melbourne and Sydney, attendance has been estimated at more than 20,000 people.
At other times in history, that figure is an impressive feat with no caveat but given we’re in the middle of global pandemic, it’s a nail-biting number of people to be gathered in the one space. To reduce the risk of spread, organisers in each city provided protesters with face masks, hand sanitiser stations and encouraged everyone to keep their distance from each other. While distancing might not have always been possible given the scale of the protests, it’s hoped these measures will reduce the risk of transmission.
Still, doctors and medical organisations are recommending people who attended the protests to consider self-isolating and paying close attention to their symptoms over the next two weeks.
The coronavirus outbreak has continued to spread wreaking more havoc in countries as governments test stringent measures in order to stop further cases. The World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as Australia's own chief medical officer has maintained that most of the cases, however, are considered mild. Here's what that actually means.Read more
What do doctors recommend?
In light of the massive protests over the weekend, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called for attendees to monitor their symptoms and get tested for COVID-19 if any appear, according to an ABC report.
“They should monitor for even the earliest and the mildest of symptoms and if they develop symptoms they must get tested right away,” AMA’s president Dr Tony Bartone said to the ABC.
“The only safe way… of minimising any risk of it spreading over the next 14 days is to ensure that we keep our distance from the rest of the community.”
Adding to that advice, doctor and health commentator Dr Vyom Sharma explained on Twitter that while it might not be practical for thousands of protesters to self-isolate for 14 days, it was still the best way to completely minimise the risk.
On a factual level, transmission among protesters is very plausible. The number infected on Sat could've been small. Or a lot. We don't know and it's hard to estimate. But 'a lot' is plausible. So if everyone self-isolates, we COULD prevent a huge number of downstream infections.
— Dr Vyom Sharma (@drvyom) June 8, 2020
People who attended #blacklivesmatteraustralia should be VERY alert to symptoms, & if they develop, isolate immediately, get tested ASAP. Avoid people as much as you can for 14 days, esp gatherings. Self-isolating for 14 days is the gold standard. But every little bit could help.
— Dr Vyom Sharma (@drvyom) June 8, 2020
Dr Sharma said even if someone self-isolated for five days, that could be enough to determine whether symptoms appear according to the usual four-to-five day incubation period of COVID-19.
Either way, if you can avoid seeing people and completely cancelling visits to see grandma for next 14 days, that’s advisable.
When should I get tested?
Around Australia, the official advice for most states means you can only get tested if you’re presenting symptoms but even mild symptoms will be enough to make you eligible.
The easiest way to tell is with healthdirect’s symptom checker, which takes into account your age, location and severity of symptoms.
Mild symptoms for COVID-19 can be tough to distinguish from the common cold or even a mild flu but if you’re experiencing a sore throat or dry cough, you should get it checked out.
Remember, before visiting your local doctor, call ahead and let them know you wanr to get a COVID-19 test done so they can make arrangements for your visit.
Australia's coronavirus case count has been in considerable decline over the past few weeks and as a result, testing criteria around the country are being eased. This means you might be eligible for a test even if you've just got a sore throat. Here's who can get tested for coronavirus in Australia.Read more
Where should I get tested?
Through healthdirect’s symptom checker, you’ll be able to check out a list of the available testing clinics in your state or territory.
Additionally, this map helps you pop in your postcode or suburb to give you an idea of which clinics are available nearby.
Remember to check if you’re eligible and call ahead if you’re showing symptoms.
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