Risky! (HLD 371)

9 March 2021

There can be no doubt that Australia has been fortunate in the battle against the bug. By this, I mean COVID, of course. The bugs that really cause us problems are more likely flies.

We have been lucky because of our island status, and being able to shut borders and control potential risks. The state I live in has been notorious for slamming our borders shut to other parts of the country at the very hint of community transmission elsewhere. But it’s worked well for us.

We have had a little while now with the entire population of Australia being able to travel across borders, catching up merrily with family, taking holidays (on a plane!!!!!), doing business trips and so forth.

It had ALMOST got to where we started to think about planning an interstate trip later in the year. Immunisations were starting to happen, shows were starting back up, and things were looking good.

Then there came another little outbreak in one of the states, and while our health and government gurus sat and watched for a little while, when the little outbreak started to look a but more interesting, number-wise, today the borders to that particular state have once again slammed shut.

While I feel very sorry for people who had planned trips to see family over Easter, or those who had planned long dreamed of holidays to the Gold Coast or the Barrier Reef, I immediately got distracted by the announcement from our government. Specifically – the picture that accompanied the announcement.

We have seen it before – various states showed in a particular colour, depending on whether they were designated medium, low, or very low risk. It’s all very easy to understand. Very low risk is yellow, low risk is orange, and medium risk is red. We are the large state in white, obviously signifying how really really low risk we are. Heavenly, maybe.

But the oceans surrounding our country is the same colour as poor old Queensland, who have jumped to medium risk level.

It got me wondering if our oceans are actually medium risk.

People from other countries seem to think that Australia is filled with animals who want to kill you. The theory is that if you try to escape from the snakes, spiders and drop bears who want to kill you by heading towards the ocean – well the oceans are jam packed with creatures both large and small who could finish off the job.

It’s true – there are things on land that pose a risk, and there are things in the water that also pose a risk. But I’d have to say that if I was ranking them in the yellow, orange or red colours, the ocean would be yellow. (Actually, I’d change the colour designations so that low risk is blue, because swimming in a yellow body of water sounds highly suspicious. Risky, even. Northern hemisphere people should relate this to not eating yellow snow).

Comparing them to a potential COVID outbreak is tricky. We are much more worried about this virus than we are about possible shark or stinger or blue ringed octopus interaction. Those are risks we know, and have had the ability throughout the years to determine whether a swim in the beautiful blue waters is worth the very small chance we could come to strife.

Which is not to say that you should not take similar precautions as for the virus issue. Wearing a mask is a very good idea – snorkelling is much more fun if you can admire the pretty fish and turtles and coral.

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