Well I was the sort of person who “never got sick” until this year’s winter flu season came along. Now it’s a constant battle not to be ill.
This winter I have been so very sick. Not with COVID-19, thankfully. Nor with any serious disease. Just with “common colds” that have hit me in repeated waves. Over and over again.
And if it isn’t myself, then it’s been my daughter. If my daughter has as much as a sniffly nose, then she can’t go to child care or preschool, which means that I have to take time off work to look after her. That’s the new “COVID normal”. It’s terrible.
We have been suffering a game of tandem cold infections. She gets sick. Then I do. Then she does. Then it’s my turn again. Over and over again.
I have had more days off work in the past month-and-a-half (either through direct illness or as Carers’ Leave) than I reckon I’ve had in the last five years. It’s smashing my workplace productivity and my general sense of happiness.
I am not alone. It’s been widely reported in the media that there is a wave of colds, influenza and COVID-19 running through the Australian community. Just look at this chart of Australian Laboratory-Confirmed Influenza Cases which was last published at the start of June:
I have had my COVID-19 shots and my influenza shots. I seldom attend social functions. I wear a mask and wash my hands when out. I try to maintain a safe social distance and yet here I am. Sick again.
Employers would do well to consider the wisdom of compelling people to return to the office without good cause. So too, governments. Yes, lockdowns were horrible and mask mandates unpleasant but look at the influenza data for 2020 and 2021. The data speaks for itself.
There is a COVID-19 pandemic and a concurrent epidemic of colds and influenza. Workplace absenteeism due to illness is up a massive 50%. This is costing the community billions of dollars.
Yet even wearing a mask when out is too much for most Australians these days, and with a Victorian state election coming in November, there doesn’t seem to be any appetite for re-introducing mask mandates as a simple step towards reducing infections.
Our hospitals are full. People can’t get to see a GP either. Yet here are people like me clogging up the system asking for “medical certificates” so that my employer can be satisfied that I really am ill when it is patently clear that I am sick. Maybe, as an interim measure to take pressure off the health system, we could waive the need for medical certificates? That would open up a lot of GP consultations which in turn would stop so many people fronting-up at overcrowded emergency departments because the can’t get medical care anywhere else.
Just an idea.