Madonna King: COVID-19 is a numbers game when it comes to protecting lives


In Victoria, more than 8000 new COVID-19 cases are recorded overnight.

This many are by PCR test and that many on a rapid antigen test. There are 50,000 active cases. And in one day this week, 18 people died.

Stop there. Eighteen people, in one state, on one day? And they were all aged in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Across the border in New South Wales and we are awash with statistics.

This many have received three doses of the vaccine, this many have only had one dose. This proportion of the population have a cough as their first symptom and that number report a sore throat.

Oh, and 14 deaths yesterday; 10 men and four women. Two were in their 60s, four people in their 70s, five in their 80s and three people were in their 90s.

Queensland fared worse. We’re told 1668 school-aged children have the virus, how that number had declined in the past 24 hours, and the breakdown between the jabbed and the un-jabbed.

And on deaths? Thirty nine people died in yesterday’s daily update. Thirty nine! One was in their 50s, five in their 60s, 10 in their 70s, 12 in their 80s, 10 in the 90s and 1 was over 100.

Oh, and 21 of those deaths occurred in aged-care facilities.

In all states, the overall caseload was declining, we were told, and this is good news.

And as a reward, from today (Friday), restrictions would begin to be eased.

QR codes to be scrapped in some cases. In others density limits will be dumped and singing and dancing back on Friday night’s agenda. Masks will be torn up, and life will resume, as normal.

Have we lost every shred of perspective?

How many lives, among our over-50s, do we need to lose before we start to wonder whether we are doing this COVID thing right?

How many elderly lives equal the lives of a 15-year-old? 10? 20? 100? 1000?

Two young people, aged 10 to 19, have lost their lives since the first case was reported in Australia. Twelve 20 to 29-year-olds have died. And at the other end of life?

More than 1110 Australians, aged 90+, have died.

More than 1620 aged 80 to 89 have died on top of that.

Then add the 959 70 to 79-year-olds who have passed, as a result of COVID-19.

And if we include those aged 60 to 69, we can add 418 to the tally.

That’s a total of 4114 Australians over 60 who have lost their lives as a direct result of this pandemic.

If you add those relatively young 50 to 59-year-olds, the number jumps to 4319.

And yet, across Australia, we are now shouting the daily tallies with a grin and a sense of victory.

In Queensland, the Health Minister said the big increase in deaths on Thursday – 39 – was due to reporting numbers that had previously not been included.

No, Minister. They were due to COVID-19.

Aged-care residents are at greater risk from COVID-19. Photo: Getty

Authorities in one state announced how happy they were with the hospitalisation rate, which had fallen by more than 100 people in a week.

And yet, 71 families in three states – Victoria, NSW and Queensland – now begin the process of burying a loved one, who died on Thursday.

The most important figure, we are told, is that number of hospitalisations. But is it?

What about the lives of our parents and grandparents?

They might have had more time on Earth, and less time to go, but what makes it OK for us to dismiss that many deaths with the flick of a microphone switch?

Older age is a significant risk factor for serious illness and death for COVID-19.

But shouldn’t we then be focusing on that?

Ensuring our aged-care facilities are as healthy and COVID-resistant as possible; that every aged-care worker is vaccinated or sacked; that every person over 50 or 60 or 70 has had the vaccine, even if it is delivered to their front door.

That RATs, handed out freely at school now, are also available for our elderly at home.

Who decides now what’s old and what’s young? Why do we think it’s acceptable for a 65-year-old to die, but not a 45-year-old?

Would it be different if our premiers and health officials were all aged 70?

An easy answer might not be at the ready. But dumping our elderly is not any answer, at any age.

We’ve Already Come Too Far To End This Now.

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