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Comment: Is isolation stupid?

Dubai Airport,21-March, 2020. Photo www.flickr.com/photos/joiseyshowaa.

Raphael Lee Cass

On 7 February I caught a plane from Brisbane airport to Hong Kong airport to meet my relative so that we could fly to Israel. I had planned two weeks in Israel, two weeks in London, one week in Hamburg, two weeks in Vietnam and one week in South Korea for a relative’s wedding.

Landing at Hong Kong the plane screen showed Wuhan as a few hundred km north of the Hong Kong airport. I was glad I was at the airport for only hours. On entry to security I was asked to remove my hat and my, and every passenger’s temperature were taken.

Precautions and social distancing

I wore a mask, washed my hands frequently and would hold a paper towel in my hand to open and close any toilet or bathroom door. The airport was not busy. We sat near the gate for our Israel flight where there were about 20 people, all sitting distanced from each other. The plane was not full so we got a row of seats each to sleep on. When we landed in Israel the plane parked away from the terminal and we walked on the tarmac to catch a bus to the terminal. We thought we would be checked on entry, but we went straight through immigration.

We picked up a hire car, drove to our accommodation to commence our Israeli tour. Four days later, the government announced that all arrivals from mainland China needed 14-day’s isolation. We did our trips. The only checks we encountered were terrorist/security checks.

Airlines started losing customers as COVID-19 escalated. I cancelled my trips to Vietnam and South Korea. My relative’s return flight to Oz was cancelled. The airline wanted him to fly three days later so he flew on another carrier to Frankfurt, Hong Kong, then Melbourne. He had to leave 4am the day I flew to Heathrow.

In London there were no checks for COVID-19. I caught two trains to my daughter’s house. Over the next three weeks I had about six bus trips, a few train trips and went shopping numerous times. We were laughing at Australians buying toilet paper – but now local supermarkets were out of stock.

People were dying and borders closing

The world was starting to catch onto the sickness that was running rampant. Israel shut its borders. People were dying in Italy and Spain. I cancelled plans for Europe, booking London to Perth direct to avoid any Asian or Middle Eastern airports. This flight was expensive and I had already incurred penalties for cancelling two flights. I wanted to go home.

I farewelled my family, caught a taxi to Heathrow, walked amongst hundreds of people, had no COVID-19 checks, got on a Dreamliner with about 200 people, got myself three seats and slept for four hours. I landed at Perth airport on March 18 expecting the army to march me for a COVID-19 check as ScoMo had just brought in the 14-day isolation. No checks. I was intending to visit relatives and had paid for eight nights at beautiful Scarborough beach. I rang the COVID-19 hotline for advice on what to do about isolation. It seemed crazy to stay at an apartment. I would rather be isolated at home. I cancelled the apartment.

Back to Byron and isolation

I rang my travel agent and he booked me Coolangatta via Sydney. I waited at Perth Airport for 12 hours, making calls and rearranging my life. At 11pm I got on a packed flight with 300 people to Sydney where I walked around with 500 other happy travellers. I got on another plane with 200 people, landed, walked around with 300 people and got on a bus with five relaxed people to Byron. No checks.

I stayed isolated, cleaned my house, started projects. People are amazing: I have been delivered chicken soup, fresh veggies and fruit, supermarket supplies, pharmacy goods and just now, cheesecake and chocolate brownies.

Last Saturday, my twelfth day, my feet were cold and I felt tired. I had light asthma but attributed that to the damp situation of my house being shut up while I was away. I fell asleep for two hours after lunch. I felt ‘funny.’

I rang the COVID-19 hotline who transferred my call to a registered nurse who asked me many questions. As I was a returned traveller and had light asthma I qualified for a COVID-19 test. On Sunday I rang Byron Hospital and one hour later was taken into a specially prepared room by a garbed doctor who took swabs and checked my lungs.

I was told, ‘Your lungs sound fine. Stay isolated and when I get the results in three to five days I’ll call you.’

On Tuesday she rang. ‘Your test is positive.’

I reeled. Me? Me with C19? How could that be? Where did I get it from?

In my shock and upset I remembered. I had been in contact with about 3,000 people from London to Byron.

So is isolation stupid? No! You don’t know where people have been and who they have been in contact with.

I was asymptomatic for 12 days. And I was home for that time while I was getting ill.

I have a mild case of COVID-19 and will recover naturally in time.

Fingers crossed.


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15 responses to “Comment: Is isolation stupid?”

  1. Emily Stewart says:

    Some would call me a fly-by-nighter, some would call me a bird on the wing, for I have so much wealth and freedom like Clive Palmer I can do almost anything.
    On February 7 I flew from Brisbane to Hong Kong where there are a few ruffled feathers and so there I met my relative, relatively speaking, and we left and soared to Israel as the rail was too slow. Going by ship was also far too slow. The plan from Israel was to get up and go to South Korea for another relative’s wedding via London, Hamberg and Vietnam. Have you been from Darwin to Adelaide by train on The Ghan? No?

  2. David Cass says:

    Take good care of yourself, Lee!
    And to all the folks out there, STAY AT HOME if not essential to go out.

  3. Peter says:

    OMG…..the laxity of checks and tests is astounding………one would think from the experience of previous virus epidemics there would have been more urgency.
    Now we deal with the damage done to lives and futures……
    A reset to the values and mentality that underpins the global economic system away from monetising everything and consumerism would be heartening, particularly in the context of global warming.
    we can only hope
    Peter

  4. Ken says:

    I had to read this several times , I’m still having trouble believing this is true and not some sort of twisted joke.
    Has Raphael Lee Cass ever heard of personal responsibility ?
    What sort of lunatic could be so careless of the lives they have put at risk ?
    This is the sort of idiotic behavour that will cost thousands of lives and I do hope the contacts can be traced and the deaths attributable to this type of moronic behavior be pursued in court, this type of criminal indifference was made a war crime by the Geneva Convention, for if this is not murder it is certainly manslaughter.
    Cheers , G”)

  5. We obviously have cart loads of brain-dead officials
    in charge of the country’s residents. It’s the same
    batch that don’t believe in Climate Change.

  6. Joseph Bernard says:

    Yes horse has bolted, we now need to adjust our behavior to minimize exposure until either a vaccine is developed and/or better treatment
    The following link, titled “Simulating an epidemic” is a must-watch as it illustrates the dynamics of how we get such a pervasive spread.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxAaO2rsdIs

    I also recommend you wear a mask, any mask which, when combined with social distancing, can significantly reduce the rate of spread.

  7. Chris Dobney says:

    Thanks for your perspective Lee. Sorry to hear that you have the virus but glad that it is only mildly. It is a stark contrast In attitudes that you describe, and clearly explains why Hong Kong is doing so much better than we are. Nevertheless I’m glad things have tightened up here now, and hopefully that will put a lead on serious cases. Take care in attitudes that you describe, and clearly explains why Hong Kong is doing so much better than we are. Nevertheless I’m glad things have tightened up here now, and hopefully that will put a lld on it. Take care

  8. I am astounded that Australia didn’t establish screening of all incoming passengers, all arrivals, some weeks ago! Being an island nation, it should be easy to protect our border. But no. She’ll be right, mate! But it’s not!

  9. Cheryl Overs says:

    I wonder how many people this man infected. There’s no mention of any concern for them. Many of whose symptoms won’t be mild.

  10. Cheryl Overs says:

    I wonder how many people this man infected. There is no mention of them, some of whose symptoms won’t be mild. Ironic

  11. Barrow says:

    No we do not believe in Climate change stefanie what ever thats means !! and for good reason !!
    Just more of the same ! Computer modeling
    Predictions.. what if ..what if ..what if
    Please !! By the way how is it possible
    That extinction rebellion did not see this REAL
    EMERGENCY coming .. so good at lecturing
    The world .. what a joke !! Throw in the Greens
    And the big brother Labor as well .

  12. Toni Begley says:

    Sounds like you’ve been on quite a journey, just not the trip you initially planned for. Now it’s a more internal journey … Hope it remains ‘mild’ for U & thankyou for isolating.

    There’s so many reasons why countries have responded so differently – primarily previous experience with SARS1 & MERS led to swift action in Asian countries. You can bet that when the next inevitable animal-human virus emerges in the future that Australians will be far less likely to put on the “she’ll be right mate” bravado nor heads in the sand.

    Ownership of media (especially in the USA) has played a role in mediating info to the masses; different levels of trust in government + legitimate fears of misuse of tracking technologies have also played a role, as has clumsy administrative moments & prior defunding of health & research facilities leading to ill-equipped services in our current moment scrambling to reconfigure & supplement current setups.

    Thanks for relaying your story – We all have stories to tell & 1 particularly positive outcome of this man-made pandemic of a natural viral source is that so many previously ‘unheard’* stories are now getting some airtime & sympathy (eg. DV, homelessness, inequitable pay/work conditions & internet/technology access, vulnerability of Indig communities to yet more colonial diseases).

    May we ALL come out of this experience with greater empathy & understanding of the plight of others, deeper gratitude for for what we ourselves already have at our disposal, & enough wisdom & skills to change those situations that this pandemic has highlighted as being untenable, both personal & globally. Be well.

    * ‘unheard’ as in not really listened to by enough people rather than never told …

  13. Peter smith says:

    What a load of self obsessed drivel. Are u a politician or buearecrat? No doubt a self proclaimed greenie. This posturing is a joke surely. Otherwise I want whatever u are on pleeeese!

  14. To be sure, Lee is a navel gazer. A good 2/3rds of the
    world acted in a sensible way but the pointed point is
    that the ‘entitled fool’ not only put himself at risk – he
    didn’t give a damn what he passed on to others that
    could, possibly, have taken a life or many. Stupidity
    knows no bounds. And yes, it’s another man-made
    abortion – I speak of COVID-19 that has nix to do
    with Extinction Rebellion let alone Climate Change
    except to show that all ‘that is’ crucial to the planet
    generally falls on twisted minds, deaf ears & I’m
    okay, Jack.

  15. Ah yes! Regarding Climate Change that just so happens
    to exist, please note that the 30,000 Delegates & World
    Leaders for the Glasgow Summit will now meet mid year
    2021 due to COVID-19. Same Scottish address.

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