Australian governments are cautiously beginning to lift some of the restrictions which have been curtailing the working lives of millions of Australians and limiting social lives essentially to the family circle in response to the proven dangers of the COVID-19 virus which continues, even today, its gradual spread around the globe.

The reason that health and political authorities have decided upon a staged return to an eventual resumption of normal community life in this country is that the Australian population has largely recognised the threat of a potentially lethal virus with no backstop of effective treatment or a preventive vaccine.

We have accordingly obeyed the various provisions of lockdown, quarantine and the various prohibitions on travel and social and sporting events.

This has meant that there are now signs that the factors which would allow a pandemic virus to do massive harm are being increasingly contained and the risk of widespread outbreaks have lessened.

Limited approval for greater social interaction, family visits, small social gatherings of 10 of less, and so on have been widely welcomed by the community at large.

Children are returning to school, friends are cautiously catching up with each other, and – importantly – the nation is preparing to return to work.

The economic legacy of the coronavirus pandemic, however, is massive and daunting – not only for Australia but the world as a whole.

Billions of dollars have been borrowed by governments in this country from our future.

The structure of our economy will certainly be changed forever although the imperative of a return to efficient and positive national productivity will be the key to the development of a new, equitable society will be vital for our national future and well-being.

Shire citizens should welcome the fact that progress is being made to return a sense of normality to life across Australia but we all should be aware that the way forward may not be easy.

We learned, during the height of the lockdown phase, that we had the will and determination to get through a difficult time.

We looked out for our families – and each other.

Countless thousands of people have learned new things about themselves and gained greater awareness of the wider community we share.

Many have keenly felt the affects of isolation; the loss of usual habits and practices, and worried about the well-being of relatives.

Many of the lessons learned will remain with us; in some cases our lives will change for the better.

We should be careful, however, of allowing a false feeling of escape from a potentially life-threatening event to prevail.

Our tolerance and patience may be tested again in the months ahead.

While we can thank our lucky stars we live in the 21st century consider the pandemics of the past where the consequences were much more dire, essentially due to the lack of human understanding of the nature of the bateria or virus responsible for devastating plagues.

Between 1346 and 1400 waves of the Black Death or Plague is estimated to have killed about 50 million people in Europe – about half the population – before frightened individuals and families began quarantining themselves from harm.

This deadly plague was bacterial in origin and transmitted to households by infected rats.

Of course, no one knew what a bacterium was.

The so-called ‘Spanish Flu’ (which actually may have originated in America) spread world-wide in 1918. Not only did soldiers who had survived the bitter battlefields succumb but the pandemic spread world-wide, affecting an estimated 500 million people and leaving 50 million victims dead.

Medical science at the time did not have the tools to discern a sources as something as small as a virus nor have effective counters to subsequent bacterial infections.

The ’second wave’ of the Spanish Flu is now believed to have been a more deadly mutation capable of causing even more devastating results.

While we live in an era where modern medical science at least has the tools and knowledge to tackle a deadly virus such as COVID-19 it will be some time before a vaccine or chemical treatments are available to the world.

Many informed ordinary people must find it somewhat ironic that even in our modern day when science may have the an understanding of, and answers for, COVID-19 there are possibly hundred of ignorant or mischievous individuals who argue on social media forums that the virus produces only ‘mild flu’, has been created in a laboratory – ‘probably in China’ – is the result of a conspiracy involving the ‘elites’ (such as Bill Gates), is caused by 5G technology, or can be cured by doses of some worthless substance.

Such fraudulent individuals would have been right at home in Europe in 1350!

As we gradually adapt to an improving picture for Australia we need to retain our sense of patience, caution, and awareness that COVID-19 could be a topic of concern for many months to come.

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