Taking calm and informed precautions is the best way to guard against coronavirus in Australia, rather than the panicked approach that has seen frantic shoppers strip supermarket shelves bare of toilet paper and other items.
This is the message being stressed by all health authorities, who point out there are no known transmissions of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, within either Victoria or Tasmania.
Dr Brett Sutton, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, said to be infected you would have to come into close contact with someone who had the virus, such as with face-to-face encounters or within a household.
“It cannot jump across a room or be carried for long distances in the air so we should all go about our lives as normal,” he said.
Close contact means spending greater than 15 minutes face-to-face or the sharing of a closed space for more than two hours with a confirmed case.
This means wearing a facemask in public is not necessary unless you have or do come into close contact with an infected person.
However, there are precautions you take as a matter of course to safeguard yourself and the community from coronavirus and other contagious diseases.
These include frequently and thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes and keeping a metre away from someone coughing or sneezing.
These same precautions can also be taken for church services and other activities, allowing them to proceed as normal. For the sake of attendee confidence, rituals such as the passing of the peace can be modified to avoid contact.
Please make sure your information about the virus comes for reputable sources, such as government health websites (see below) and medical professionals.
You can regularly check these sources for further and updated advice. You will also find the symptoms of the virus listed with advice to follow if you feel unwell.
As a final note, it has been noted even by some within the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania that because the virus comes from China it has spurred ugly expressions xenophobia and mistrust directed to people of Asian appearance and has led to the closure of many Asian businesses, such as restaurants.
Please show Christian love, acceptance and charity towards this beleaguered community, which can be as practical as going to a Chinese restaurant on your next night out.