Vital: Dr Casey Nottage said individual actions are key to protecting public health. Photo: KATIE MARTIN

Healthy habits still important post-lockdown

June 10, 2021 BY
AS lockdown restrictions ease across regional Victoria, people are being encouraged to keep up their COVID safe habits.

Director of Loddon Mallee Public Health Unit and deputy chief medical officer at Bendigo Health, Dr Casey Nottage, said the recent coronavirus outbreak is a reminder of the importance of actions like hand hygiene and social distancing to control sudden spreading of the virus.

“It is easy to think that we have gotten rid of coronavirus otherwise, and it is easy to not be in that really heightened state that we were in right in the middle of that second wave and that’s human nature,” she said.

“But I think what the last week has shown us is at any time the contact tracers might be ringing to say that you’ve been at an exposure sight.”

With the recent outbreak of COVID variants in Victoria, including exposure sites in Bendigo and at Axedale, and detections of the virus in local wastewater, Dr Nottage urged people to maintain the practices that have been drummed into us from the start of the pandemic.

“We need to keep those basic things up,” she said.

“So social distancing where we can, hand hygiene, wearing masks when those rules are put in place with that heightened risk, that idea of scanning in and QR coding and knowing where you’ve been so that when those calls come, from the contact tracing point of view, the more information we have, the quicker we can get on top of things.

“That’s not to say that we can’t go and live our lives, but we have to go and live it in this new idea of COVID normal.

“It’s just really important that we just keep on top of it and it’s going to be our actions that keep us and our communities safe.”

Dr Nottage said hand hygiene in particular should be practiced to safeguard against a number of other public health concerns too.

“Hand hygiene isn’t just for coronavirus. It’s for flu, it’s for all of those other viruses, so I don’t think we’ll see an end to hand hygiene. It’s a vital public health strategy just broadly,” she said.

“It’s about making it a habit. You don’t think twice about putting your seatbelt on, it’s an automatic action that we do but that didn’t happen from the day we said ‘let’s start wearing seatbelts’.

“We have to think of hand hygiene like that and we have to just work to making it that automatic habit.”