COVID-19 has drastically impacted on how each one of us live these days. It is paramount that we do our bit to help prevent the spread of this dreadful malady and/or the deaths of more people.
At the moment, five of the nation’s six deaths have happened in NSW and with now 307 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, the majority is in Sydney. It is not an understatement to say that this is a worrying time for us in Sydney, which has been referred to as the "epicentre" of Australia's COVID-19 cases.
At the time of this writing [4.57pm], it was announced that there are new cases of 40 in Queesland and 75 in NSW. This brings a total number of cases of 382 in NSW and 800 nationally.
Individually, we can do something within our control. Let us follow the suggested 'social distancing protocols', the latest of which is that there must be at least 4 square metres space around a person in a gathering (2 meter by 2 meter distance).
Also no to hugging, kissing [beso beso to Filipinos], handshaking or even 'high fives' . At the same time, we need to keep abreast of latest information handed out by the government and health authorities, and equally important that we do not participate in sharing "fake news".
To help us cope with the threat of an invisible enemy, let us also take note of some positive action and initiatives taken by the government, social and religious groups.
Here are eight initiatives announced so far (March 20):
* the government rolling out the stimulus package to help small businesses;
* $750 financial assistance to be extended to millions of families that qualify for family tax benefits, aged pensioners, health care card holders and the unemployed;
* $715 million relief package to the airline industry;
* National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) exams called off;
* dedicated shopping hour 7-8am for seniors and holders of disability cards by Woolworths and Coles;
* Australian Banking Association deferring payment of loans by small businesses for six months;
* the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance [MEAA] waiving membership dues for two months;
* various churches discontinuing the gathering at Masses/Services and replacing them with livestreamed ceremonies.
Against the backdrop of ugly scenes of people fighting over packets of toilet paper and hoarding other items, there are many anecdotes of kind acts. That is, people door knocking and sharing toilet paper rolls to the elderly; letter drop to the community's elderly giving out name and telephone numbers they can contact if they need help to get some essential items.
Recently, while I was visiting a friend who has not been able to work due to health reasons, I saw her so touched by an email that she received from her real estate agent - her landlord is waiving two weeks rental which come to a total of $1, 200!!!
Indeed, the acts of kindness can be little gestures that help and cheer up people in need. We have it in our power to do these.