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Coronavirus: Hospital absurdities and infection control

I was talking to a nursing friend who works in a large suburban Melbourne hospital emergency department, triaging patients for a particular area. I will call her Angie.

Given the high through-put of patients in the area in this time when we are supposed to be trying to reduce the transmission of coronavirus, I was curious to know what measures her hospital was taking to protect their staff and patients.

ANGIE: "None, as far as I know," she said.

NEUTRINO: "You're not issued with masks for every new examination? You're not wiping down surfaces with alcohol or sodium hypochlorite, with every new patient? You are not even wearing gloves? You're not screening people in the waiting room for high temperatures?"

ANGIE: "That's right," she said, and laughed, as nurses do when they acknowledge helplessness at the behest of universally absurd hospital systems.

NEUTRINO: "Are they discussing policy with you, at least?"

ANGIE: "We get emails from them from time to time."

NEUTRINO: "Emails saying what?"

ANGIE: "Oh, just the number of infections in the state and the country."

NEUTRINO: "Do they tell you where they infections are and which hospitals are looking after them?"

ANGIE: "No."

NEUTRINO: "Then you're not getting any more information than the general public does from the news?"

ANGIE: "I guess so."

NEUTRINO: "Are you going to cancel your trip to Japan?"

ANGIE: "Probably, although it seems to me we may be in more danger here. At least the Japanese have cancelled most of their public festivals and tourism attractions."

NEUTRINO: "They have also closed all schools and universities."

ANGIE: "Yes."

NEUTRINO: "Ambivalence rules infection control in Australia. For instance, in Sydney, one school where there was an infected pupil reopened a few days later, and the day it reopened, another closed with two infected pupils."

ANGIE: "So, would you like to meet for coffee at the Italian restaurant on my days off?"

NEUTRINO: "Please don't take this personally, but I'd rather we keep it to telephone conversations for the time being."

ANGIE: "I don't take it personally at all. I don't blame you. Telephone is fine."


ANGIE: "Although we could meet for coffee on the terrace of the Italian restaurant."

NEUTRINO: "How about we meet on a bench on the beach, and I'll bring a thermos."

ANGIE: "Okay, but I'll get my coffee from the restaurant."

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