The Australian health system has responded magnificently to the current health crisis. It was quite a grim picture back in March with inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and what looked like a deadly shortage of ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
Thankfully, we’ve collectively flattened the curve; replenished supplies of PPE and produced several thousand ventilators. Should a surge occur, doctors will not have to choose between who receives life-saving treatment and who does not.
As restrictions around the country begin to ease, medical specialists and hospitals can return to a more normal operating rhythm. Non-urgent elective surgery returned in late April, and the capacity to clear the backlog of patients is ramping up.
In the beginning of the pandemic, health authorities had to restrict testing for the virus. Now they are testing extensively to identify both symptomatic and asymptomatic members of the public. This builds on what they know about the virus and helps to shut down infection in the community.
Similarly, contact tracing through the COVIDSafe app will help to quickly isolate further outbreaks as they occur. This is a valuable step in the managed and ongoing easing of restrictions.
Prior to COVID-19 telehealth had been a good idea that was still on the drawing board in Australia. But the rapid movement of the pandemic made GP and allied health telehealth consultations a reality in around 10 days. Telehealth has been deemed so successful that it will remain in place even when we’ve given COVID-19 the boot.
We’re winning this battle. But it is still a long road ahead before a vaccine is available and life as we knew it can return.