The Snowy Valleys has largely avoided Covid-19 cases so far, but local Councillors say that success rate is mostly due to environmental factors and could change quickly if the community isn’t vigilant.
The region’s first major event for the year – the Tumut Cycle Classic – will be held this Sunday. Mayor James Hayes said he’s feeling nervous about the event, but has been assured that the proper health protocols are being met or exceeded.
“I’m optimistic that it’s at least being organised by health professionals, but it’s not a council-run show,” he said.
Overall, Cr Hayes said the SVC has benefitted from being more isolated than other cities and having plenty of fresh air and room for social distancing.
“We’ve dodged a bullet [so far],” he said. “We’ve been very lucky. I think the community has been diligent for the most part and we’re lucky that we’re on the front foot a bit.”
Cr Hayes said that locals don’t “live in each other’s pockets” as in cities where there have been hot spots such as Melbourne or Sydney.
“We’ve got the luxury that our population is not as [dense],” he said.
“I’m just risk averse at the moment. I usually try to get to the cricket in Sydney, but I’ll be watching it on television. It’s a whole lot safer.”
Fellow SVC Councillor and former surgeon Dr Geoff Pritchard said he’s been taking the precautions very seriously and personally, refusing to allow his daughter from Sydney to visit his home over the Christmas holidays.
“She changed her mind and she was contacted by the Department of Health after that, saying she’s a close contact after being in a coffee shop in Sydney the day before and that coffee shop had a case,” said Dr Pritchard.
“We really don’t know who’s got it and what the future holds, so we have to be vigilant.”
Dr Pritchard’s daughter is now ‘locked up with the kids’ at their home in Sydney.
“It hurt me really hard to deny her the opportunity to come down here,” he said, insisting that politicians have to set the example for the community and be above reproach when it comes to hand hygiene, mask-wearing and social distancing.
“The governments have done a great job with their contact tracing and they’ve kept a lid on things, and they can do that while the numbers are low, but if the numbers get out of control anywhere, they won’t be able to hold it back,” he said.
“The great fear is that we’ll become like other countries in the world
“We live in a paradise here at the moment but it could so easy turn it into chaos.”
Dr Pritchard said he expects the threat to continue at a high level until an effective vaccine has been distributed through the bulk of the community.
He thinks that could be a year or more away.
“If you look at the history, these plagues have been coming continuously throughout mankind’s history.
“There are only two alternatives, get a vaccine or let the susceptible people die out and we can’t let the second one happen so we have to pray that we get one,” he said.
Dr Pritchard said he felt it was ‘completely irresponsible’ to go ahead with the Cycle Classic.