The world is changing: COVID-19
Having worked in the wine trade since 2003 and passed the Diploma in Wines & Spirits, I have enjoyed analysing, tasting and assessing wines. I can spend hours reviewing the acidity, structure and flavour profiles of wine as well as visiting wineries. I would often attend consumer and trade wine tastings when I lived in London and later when I moved to Australia in Perth and Adelaide. This all seems so insignificant at the moment as the world has changed and is changing.
Since the 27th February, I really started to notice a change in Australia. The 27th February was the day my parents flew back to France and it was on that day that I thought buying some hand sanitizer would be handy for them to have as they travelled on 3 planes and through 4 airports to get home (Australia, Singapore, Germany, France). We had been watching the news and were aware of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and thought keeping clean and sanitized hands would be sensible. We went to three stores in search of hand sanitizer (and asked about masks) and in the third store, Coles found a few left on the shelves. I bought 3 small bottles (2 for my parents) as well as one larger one, the latter to add to my baby’s room. Based on the limited amount of hand sanitizer and lack of masks, other people had been playing closer attention to the situation than I had.
Since the 27th February, as we all know the number of confirmed cases has risen. As of today, 29th March there are now 664,103 confirmed cases and 30,883 deaths world-wide. Most of us are now working from home, not socialising with friends over barbeques at home or at restaurants, buying more of the necessities, not going out for lunches or brunches at restaurants, bars or cafes and there are of course no wine tastings.
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is a “one in 100-year event” says Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and as of 6:00am on 29 March 2020, there have been 3,809 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia. There have been 431 new cases since 6:00am yesterday.
The Australian government is putting in measures to help support not just the economy but the growing millions who will be out of work, landlords, tenants, homeowners. They are also committed to supporting health and family violence services.
It may be an inconvenience for some of us to have to postpone meet ups with friends, cancel holidays or trips to the theatre but we all need to take a moment to think of the healthcare workers who are on the front line. I have not been in a hospital during the outbreak but I can only imagine being a doctor or nurse at a hospital must like being in the army, on the front line during a war. As French president, Emmanuel Macron declared “we are at war” against the virus. As many of us have read, there is not enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for all doctors and nurses so I imagine is no surprise to learn that almost 14% of health workers account for Spain’s coronavirus cases. Spain is Europe’s second worst-hit after Italy.
Although I live and am grateful to be based here in Australia, I often think about the situation in Europe as my family all live there. My sister and fiancé live in Spain where they have been in lockdown since 14th March (more details about life in the lockdown on her Being30.com blog here). Her fiancé is a doctor working in the emergency department in a hospital in Barcelona where no doubt every 12 hour + shift they are overwhelmed with patients affected with COVID-19. Every night, without fail, I understand that the residents in the city stand on their balconies and clap for a few minutes starting at 8pm to acknowledge and thank the health care staff. I woke up especially early to What’s app my sister this morning so I could hear the clapping and see the dark silhouettes of residents against the lights in their apartments all showing their appreciation for the health care professionals. The doctors in Spain and in many countries work such long hours with short breaks. World-wide there are shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) so doctors have had to make aprons out of bin bags. Of course no country predicted a pandemic although Bill Gate’s TED talk in 2015 about how the world is not prepared for such an outbreak was extremely prophetic so I hope someone or some organisations took notice and invested money into research and equipment. In any case, we are now facing unprecedented times with a lack of PPE, ventilators and other necessary equipment to tackle the virus and the patients.
So what can we do as mere mortals? We need to have compassion. We need to support each other and health care workers by staying out of hospital. We can do this by:
- Social distancing
- Food shopping as ‘normal’ (versus panic buying in particular toilet paper, canned tomatoes, hand soap, hand sanitizer)
- Looking out for friends and neighbours (ring the door bell and ask if they need anything or phone them)
- Saying hello to people as you pass them by in the street (of course from a distance)
- Stay at home as much as possible especially if we have a cold
- Wash hands frequently and sneeze into an elbow or tissue (and throw tissue in the bin)
- Saying thank you to the staff when you shop at Woolies, Coles, Aldi, any supermarket
- Acknowledging we are in this together
It seems corporations are helping each other too. Apparently Coles is actively employing 5000 additional staff and it is heartening to learn that they are fast tracking applications from companies like Virgin who have had to lay off staff.
The next time we may all feel frustrated at the number of people at the till at Aldi or other supermarkets, we should take a moment to think about those undergoing necessary procedures like chemo and radiotherapy. They do not and cannot be in public shopping due to their heath situation. We should also acknowledge and appreciate all the work of the healthcare staff who are under immense pressure which is unprecedented.
I still enjoy wine but taste less at the moment so tonight I will enjoy Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2018 and I will be raising a glass to the healthcare professionals. You can find Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay at Liquor Barons (only in WA), Vintage Cellars and Dan Murphy’s from $22-$26 (depending on the deal).
Keep well and safe.