In December 2020, Australia reported that a number of its frontline workers had contracted coronavirus, most probably from returned travellers. These were air crew members, quarantine drivers, and quarantine hotel staff. This week, another Australian quarantine hotel worker, a cleaner, tested positive for the new and more transmissible UK variant.
It demonstrates that all countries may need to review their current measures, regarding the safety and protection of frontline workers.
This week, the Australian National Cabinet held an emergency meeting to discuss strengthening measures in response to the United Kingdom (UK) COVID-19 strain.
With a recent flight arriving in Brunei from the UK, 15 of over 80 people on board returned a positive test; the new and highly transmissible strain may have already reached local shores.
This new strain appears to be far more transmissible, and therefore places all frontline workers – from drivers to hotel staff – at a heightened risk of exposure.
The authorities would be wise to heighten measures to ensure that frontline workers are not exposed to the new UK strain, while the public and family members of frontliners would be wise to continue to monitor themselves closely for any symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and loss of sense of smell or taste.
Recent occurrences in Australia have demonstrated that frontline workers can be a mode of transmission, even with so-called good measures in place, and this poses a far greater risk to the wider community than the 2020 variant.
Will the authorities consider reviewing their safety measures, to ensure that all frontline workers, their families and the wider community are not exposed to this new and highly transmissible UK strain?
A Concerned Resident
The authorities and residents did the country proud in 2020 in controlling the spread of COVID-19.
It was a terrifying period for everyone. The immediate closing of the borders and schools was a laudable move in the containment effort.
Now that we’re at the start of 2021, and the new year has brought new worries to the country.
The authorities have temporarily suspended flights to the United Kingdom, yet are allowing essential travellers in.
Some countries have observed that the new and highly transmissible virus strains have longer incubation period, thus responding by tightening the measures.
The 14-day quarantine mandate has ceased to be viable.
Frontliners – airline crew, customs officers, cargo handlers, drivers, hotel staff and cleaners – in this new wave are now facing a much higher risk of getting infected and transmitting these new variants to their loved ones. In other words, everything they touch poses a risk.
The more concerning part is the current trend among the locals. The success of 2020 has made many of them too complacent. Most have stopped wearing face masks when visiting populated areas. Some even bring along children to the hospital, exposing them to unnecessary risks; and all not wearing face masks!
None of us wants to relive the terrifying period at the start of the coronavirus spread last year, with the hoarding of goods everywhere. Brunei needs to be vigilant at all times.
There are questions that remain unanswered: Are we fully prepared to deal with the new and highly contagious strains? Are we allowing foreigners from virus hot spots into our country? If so, why are they allowed in?