How to deal with ripple effects of a pandemic

How to deal with ripple effects of a pandemic

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My neighbour is trying to help several people who can’t shop for themselves. Last week she spent half a day driving between supermarkets trying to fill her shopping lists, stymied by the one item limit on so many essential products in response to hoarders.

The next day she started at 6am and spent a full day shopping, before realising the impossibility of both complying with the restrictions and helping her friends. At one supermarket, as she opened her boot to add a couple of hard-won items to her meagre haul, she was abused by other shoppers.

Hoarders, enough is enough. Some people have a genuine need to buy multiple items and the sooner you start to play fair the sooner normality can return.

Jan Lacey, North Melbourne

Rationing may provide a fair share for all

As a schoolboy during WWII, I remember home-made calico knapsacks in case of evacuation, and coupons in ration books for essential items – meat, butter, tea, sugar and clothing. I don’t remember coupons for toilet rolls; we had enough newspapers and old telephone books. Why ration books? Now I know. The natural need to provide for ourselves and our families can be commandeered by fear, panic, and even greed. So vulnerable people find they cannot stock up, or cannot afford to anyway. We seem to be in for the long haul with the coronavirus pandemic. Do we need the 2020 equivalent of rationing to ensure a fair share for all?

Norm Wearne, Diamond Creek

Perhaps an app needs to be created

People are starting to strip the meat and freezer sections of supermarkets clean and using freezers to stockpile. You now cannot get, without any amount of certainty, meat, frozen goods, toilet paper, bread, soap, hand sanitiser, pasta, rice and flour. Bring in rationing now.

An app should be created that records what people are buying as they buy it. Use our TFN or Centrelink CRN as the key. People could be given an allocation based on size of household: that is, one six-pack of toilet rolls per fortnight, two packs and/or rice per week, two packs of bread, soap, meat, tissues, canned goods etc. Once you buy the allocation then they can’t rebuy those same goods for a while.

Blithely asking people not to panic buy simply has not worked. Our society is not acting in a cohesive way. No amount of appeals to “look after each other” has worked. I don’t blame people for what is happening. This would not be happening at all if proper limitations and a way of recording what people had already bought had been put in place.

I think there is more anxiety about the panic buying than the actual COVID-19.

Mary Howe, Bentleigh

Raw greed raises its ugly head

Wonder where all that toilet paper is going? It’s on eBay. It’s not all being stockpiled by the anxious. It’s pure profiteering, and it’s time supermarkets took the problem of raiding more seriously. Decent people are trying to do the right thing. When they start running out of essentials it may get very nasty in the aisles.

Layla Godfrey, Mount Eliza


We must inhibit risk

My daughter is a paramedic, and I am terrified she may contract COVID-19 and become severely ill and subsequently be unable to work.

It is for emergency and health workers like her that Elizabeth Oliver’s words resonate (Comment, 16/3). And it is precisely because of health and emergency workers like her that the “it’s just like a cold and you’ll recover” brigade should be very concerned. We all must do everything we can to inhibit the spread of the virus. If you don’t, it may be you who waits by the side of the road in agony after an accident for an ambulance that never comes because some sick paramedics can’t work.

It may be your house that burns down because a whole shift of firefighters are ill and no one is there to turn out. Take COVID-19 seriously because we are all at risk.

Louise Kloot, Doncaster

Take me to a leader

What happens when you elect a marketing man as Prime Minister? You get someone who is good on the gab but devoid of leadership skills. When a major crisis hits, you get dithering and mixed messages because there is no plan. What this country needs is a leader, and unfortunately, I can’t see where we are going to get one from. I doubt if the Kiwis will lend us one for a while.

Glenn Murphy, Hampton Park

Advice unnecessary

When I read that the Victorian Chief Health Officer had advised us to stock up on two weeks of food I could not believe the stupidity of that advice. Has he not tried to buy toilet paper?

This unnecessary advice has caused much more panic and fear. Shelves in supermarkets are bare of sugar, longlife milk, flour and so many everyday essentials.

Does he think every household can buy $400 of food with doubtful future income or work? Toilet paper hoarders have made a bad investment as without food we won’t need as much toilet paper.

Here is some advice on being in self-imposed isolation. Phone a friend and get them to buy food and leave it at your door and you can get it as they phone you telling you it’s there. Leave money for them or do a bank transfer or pay them back after two weeks.

If you have no one, phone your local member and scream for help. Or a charity or neighbours.

Ross Kroger, Highton

Network moving rapidly

Dr Dennis Gration bemoans Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network’s response to COVID-19 and its support to general practices in our area (Letters, 15/3). Since the onset of the pandemic, we have distributed more than 39,000 surgical masks to general practices and pharmacies in our area, with the initial distribution occurring within 24 hours of receiving the masks.

We have also contacted practices to ascertain whether they are willing to establish COVID-19 testing clinics, and want any help in doing so. The first such clinic will be established in the next few days. I can assure Dr Gration and all readers that Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network is moving quickly and comprehensively to do anything it can to support all elements of the primary care system to respond to the pandemic.

Dr Stephen Duckett, chairman, board of directors, Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network

Teachers concerned

Victorian teachers have received an email from Education Minister James Merlino thanking us for our efforts regarding COVID-19 and announcing that schools will remain open. Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says it’s safer if schools remain open, as students will not be out unsupervised in the community – presumably at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Furthermore, Mr Murphy says it will mean workers won’t have to stay home and supervise their children – presumably schools remaining open will keep the wheels of the economy turning.

Despite this logic, parents, students and teachers are extremely concerned. Schools, like cruise ships, contain large numbers of people in close proximity to each other, and there’s no guarantee they are immune from the “Petri dish effect”. The government’s 1.5-metre distancing advice is laughable in such contexts.

Deborah Morrison, Malvern East

Load on hospitals

Italy’s medical system, overwhelmed by an unanticipated number of critically ill people infected with coronavirus, has adopted a triage system of care. This involves a logical sorting of cases by extent of disease and likelihood of recovery with treatment. It is unlikely that any Australian doctors have had any experience with serious triage except a few with military medicine experience or a major rail disaster.

Having a 40-year experience in major Victorian public hospitals, most of which function on 85-95per cent capacity, we have very limited ability to cope with a sudden surge of seriously ill people from a pandemic.

The normal work of our hospitals would be severely affected, and triage would certainly have to be considered. Futile treatment of those already close to the end of their lives would be ill-considered, and should not be provided unless it is consented to. Effective palliation should be provided where other treatment is not offered or refused.

Rodney Syme, Yandoit Hills

If it moves, shoot it

Gun sales in some regions of America have increased. Do they think you can shoot the virus?

Les Anderson, Woodend

Keep your distance

As part of the federal government’s “targeted action phase” against COVID-19, people are to stay 1.5 metres away from others. In Victoria, despite some non-government schools closing, DET advice is that schools will not be closing. How schools can possibly adhere to the 1.5-metre distancing rule in class and out of the classroom, is an interesting quandary.

Susan Caughey, Glen Iris

Less hysteria please

Can we please stop the hysteria about coronavirus spread and just practise the safe measures of hand hygiene and mindful social contact?

Ann Johnson, Box Hill North

Diminishing returns

Thank you Bruce McMillian (Letters, 16/3) for the timely reminder that it is estimated more than 70 million people are displaced, due to fleeing war, terror and seeking freedom and security. While it is understandable our concentration and concern is on the coronavirus and the spectre of much dislocation that hangs over us, let us not descend into a moral crisis as well. The spectacle of fighting over toilet paper only diminishes us as human beings, as has our treatment of people who sought/seek asylum.

Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley

Demons solace

My Collingwood-supporting friend has told me that Melbourne don’t need to worry as they are used to playing in front of small crowds. A typically inappropriate comment, but it does offer some hope for 2020.

John Beaumont, Malvern East

Indeed, why not?

If listening to health experts and taking their advice is so important in dealing with the coronavirus then why not do the same in reference to climate change?

David Farrelly, Warrnambool

I may come visiting

I have no problem with those of our fellow men who have hogged all the toilet paper. Although I do have one request – please identify your place of residence and unlock your door, I may need to visit. You have my assurance on scrupulous bathroom etiquette.

James Webster, Parkdale

Getting ahead? Really?

It will take just one person getting the coronavirus to shut a school down and other schools will be forced to follow suit. Where is the “getting ahead of the game” that we are told is happening? This government has been playing catch-up. What is the difference between a school of 500 students and an organised event of 500? Children may not be suffering and have symptoms on display, but could easily be carriers. I hope that the government has good insurance because there could literally be “class” actions aplenty after this is over.

Greg Tuck, Warragul

Surfeit of panic

Those who engage in panic buying already have a surfeit of the stuff.

Max Horton, Adelaide, SA

Treaty rationale

Jon Faine (Comment, 14/3) provides a compelling rationale for why it’s high time for “our entire Victorian community” to settle our nation’s longest running unfinished business. Namely, in constructing a treaty recognising our First Nations peoples so that Australia can become a fully integrated country.

“The process in many ways is as important as the outcome” because it must be underpinned by a non-negotiable precondition of “truth-telling”.

Jelena Rosic, Mornington

Free’s a crowd

What free speech is Nigel Jackson being denied that’s preventing him from his unfettered search for the truth (Letters, 16/3)? And wouldn’t free hate speech, needed in the search for the truth, nullify any religious freedom acts?

Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

PM, work with ASIO

Mike Burgess, the director-general of ASIO, has made it clear that the threat posed by extreme right-wing organisations is increasing. It makes perfect sense for the government to listen to him and work with ASIO to act. This is not a political issue, it is a social one, and the government needs to be socially responsible. If Scott Morrison does not take action from this advice then he may as well ask Mr Burgess to step down.

Julian Roberts, Burwood



Sign of the times: in a Moonee Ponds restaurant window: No cash or toilet paper left on premises overnight.

Stuart Hanham, Maribyrnong

Takes a lot, but the AFL is finally forced to realise that the fans are as important as TV.

Ray Way, Blackburn South

I’m surprised Peter Dutton got it. He usually doesn’t get anything.

Graham Cadd, Dromana

If we were truly the “Education State”, would we not be panic buying in book shops?

Ian Whitehead, Traralgon

What’s with the flour disappearing off shelves? Do people who self-isolate plan on cooking cakes?

Tony Curtis, Ballarat

Bring back ration books.

Michael Church, Hadfield

Day 17 without toilet paper. I have gone through the recycle bin and used all clean scraps of paper. Tomorrow I must move onto cardboard. I never thought it would be so hard.

Peter Ramadge, Newport

The hand sanitisers are graded for effectiveness against coronavirus by their alcohol content. So, keeping vodka in the stomach and another lot in the mouth should do the trick.

Gerry Lonergan, Reservoir

With the current loo paper shortage, the sale of the printed versions of newspapers may skyrocket.

Jen Gladstones, Heidelberg

Would The Age please consider printing its news articles on softer newsprint?

Rob Leeson, Birregurra

All those dad joke toilet rolls I’ve collected as presents over the years are coming in really handy.

Dennis Richards, Cockatoo

So we’re allowed to travel on overcrowded public transport but unable to attend the theatre or open-air sporting events. What am I missing?

Pamela Walker, Heidelberg

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