Flattening the curve

Medical research and public health approaches

Microscopic photo of a virus
The first Australian images taken of SARS-CoV-2 on Friday, 31 January 2020.

Every Victorian has their part to play in ensuring our COVID-19 curve remains flat. For months our research and health experts have been working tirelessly on the SARS-COV-2 virus. Their research contributes to a greater global understanding of COVID-19 biology, diagnosis techniques and potential treatments. Meanwhile, by staying at home and practising social distancing, we reduce the pressure on our health system.

These measures also slow community transmission to allow other frontline workers, from farmers to supermarket staff, to keep essential services going safely.

Investigating the invisible to save lives: COVID-19 medical research 

Medical researchers and equipment
COVID-19 overflow sample processing.

Victoria’s research and health experts have been working tirelessly to understand the SARS-COV-2 virus— so small it’s invisible to most microscopes.

Hundreds of researchers within Melbourne and Victoria’s laboratories are fast-tracking complicated studies that usually take years. Their goal is to discover how the virus acts, and how to stop it harming humans.

Already, Melbourne researchers have been the first to grow and share the virus with the international research community. Such work furthers accurate investigation and diagnosis around the world, no doubt saving many lives.

Right now, local experiments support the unveiling of the genetic and chemical structure of the virus, and the biology of its action on single cells and whole body systems. This is essential information for designing and testing drugs and vaccines, and to inform how Victorians need to behave over the coming months.

This huge multidisciplinary and collaborative effort, always a strength of the Victorian research community, helps Victoria flatten the curve.

 

Stay home, save lives: COVID-19 public health information

Billboard
Billboard ‘Staying Apart, Keeps Us Together’, Melbourne, May 2020.

Sometimes helpful, often bewildering, the messages Victorians have received during the pandemic have been many and varied.

As stories from China and Italy trickled through, Victorians learned of a virus that modern medicine could not easily protect us from. When cases reached Australia, health and border officials pushed for further awareness, and general health advice became a mantra for us all— wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds and cough into your elbow!

Controversy and confusion surrounded early messages. With declarations of a global pandemic and a Victorian State of Emergency, health messaging accelerated to communicate the rules of social distancing and lockdown laws. Press conferences discussed haircuts, bootcamps and who is and is not an essential worker. As circumstances grew more serious, the message was simplified; stay home unless you must leave.

Easing of restrictions brings its own challenges in a community eager to seize life again.

Throughout all of this, social media has buzzed with memes and shared stories of fear, boredom, humour and humanity.

  

Stories from the front line: essential work during COVID-19

Medical staff working
Nurses prepare to test people in mandatory quarantine at the Novotel Melbourne, 14 May 2020.

Nurses and doctors wearing gowns, gloves, facemasks and face shields caring for patients in ICU are just some of Victoria’s essential COVID-19 workers. Healthcare workers have tested hundreds of thousands of Victorians across the state. Scaling back non-essential surgery has freed up hospital beds in case of virus outbreaks.

Not all Victoria’s essential COVID-19 workers wear scrubs. Our farmers, many impacted by the summer’s bushfires, still grow and produce fresh food. With panic buying impacting supermarkets, some farmers are delivering their produce directly, a modern take on the milkman doing his rounds.

Behind their sneeze guards, Victoria’s supermarket workers have experienced the range of individual and public responses to the pandemic. Alongside delivery drivers, posties, IT staff and contact tracers they have worked to keep us safe, fed, connected and entertained as we’ve stayed home.

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