COVID Twelve Months On

Caption: WDHS registered nurses, Anna Heaton, Lachie Fitzgerald, Melissa Gardner and chief executive, Rohan Fitzgerald.


Just over 12 months ago on January 25, the first case of Coronavirus was detected on Australian soil. Since then we have learnt a great deal about the virus and our community’s resilience and capacity to work together to protect others.

Last year began with many Aussies watching on in disbelief as COVID-19 spread rapidly in China, then Italy, the UK, US and Brazil.

In Australia, the first cases triggered border closures, lockdowns and supermarket shortages, but relatively few deaths. It was Victoria’s more severe second wave in August that proved most devastating, leaving almost 800 people dead and leading to stricter lockdowns and other measures to ‘flatten the curve’ and save lives.

During the pandemic we’ve adopted a whole new vocabulary – as we’ve celebrated zero case ‘donut days’, improved ‘contact tracing’ efforts, adhered to ‘social distancing’ and other COVID requirements.

Locally the community response has been outstanding. Before the State of Emergency was even declared, and knowledge about the effectiveness of lockdowns was fully understood, many locals acted quickly and stayed at home voluntarily.

The level of support for our drive-thru testing clinic was also impressive, and showed the capacity of people in regional towns to take effective action to protect one another.

This same level of selflessness has continued to be our strength and has underpinned our efforts to keep the virus at bay.

Despite the global case count exceeding 100 million this week, WDHS Chief Executive, Rohan Fitzgerald says 2021 brings much hope.

“We now have a better understanding of the virus and treatment options and are seeing millions of vaccines rolled out across the globe.

The speed at which the New Years’ Eve outbreak in Victoria was contained demonstrates improvements in the State’s contact tracing capability and shows people’s willingness to get tested.

Our local community’s capacity to trust the science, adapt and support one another during the pandemic is something we can be very proud of, and is one of the reasons for low rates of community transmission across the Southern Grampians Shire.

Mr Fitzgerald says, with the vaccine roll-out, we are once again being asked to trust the science and get the jab, so that our lives can hopefully return to some normality.

“We should be optimistic about the future and celebrate our many successes to date, recognising there are still some unknowns. As we have done in the past, we are once again going to have to rely on the experts and put our faith in one another.

This means that even with a vaccine, the COVID safe practices we’ve come to know all too well will continue to be a part of our lives – washing hands, wearing face masks when you can’t social distance, getting tested and self-isolating if you have symptoms.

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