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Living with Covid-19

One of the frustrating things about being a Tour Operator during the Covid-19 Pandemic is being unable to accept bookings. Here in Melbourne we are stuck in Stage 4 lockdown, which means that there is nothing we can do but wait.

Harley Rides are unlikely to be allowed even when restrictions are lifted back to Stage 3 or Stage 2. Only when there is no longer any Covid-19 does it look like we will be able to return to normal operations.

It should come as no surprise that I'm keenly interested in monitoring anything that provides hope that we will get back to normal soon. Living with the virus is the goal. Its the only way the Tourism Industry will be able to move forward.

So? Is there a way forward? I believe there is. That way forward will be to utilise technology while we wait for a a vaccine. Even when there is a vaccine, we will still need to live with the virus. Testing and vigilance will need to continue for years to come.

The challenge is to find a way to open up, and at the same time to continue to live with the virus. Is this possible? I believe there is.

The time it takes to test for Covid-19 is slow and laborious. It needs to be faster. It needs to be immediate. It needs to be available everywhere. It needs to be similar to airport security screening. This technology is available. Only last week it was reported by Melbourne Radio 3AW that: "A COVID-19 test that has a 20 second turnaround is on its way to Australia.

And it has an apparent 99.8 per cent accuracy rate.

The test has been on trial at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Gavin Milton-White, chief revenue officer at Key-Options Group – which is bringing the test to Australia – gave Neil Mitchell an insight into how it worked on Friday."

Other types of Quick Reaction Tests have been developed around the world. But as reported by ABC News: "Despite the ringing endorsement, Australia has banned the kits from being sold to the public, warning misuse or misinterpretation of the tests could have serious consequences.

Experts also remain cautious about using rapid testing both as a diagnostic test or a test for immunity."

However, there is some hope that Rapid Blood tests will become available in Australia soon. "Rapid blood tests were approved for use in Australia by the regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), since late March.

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt indicated the Government has ordered 1.5 million of the tests for distribution to GPs," according to the article published by the ABC.

I'm certain that when the Tourism Industry wakes up to the availability of these technology advances, that they will enthusiastically embrace it. That applications are numerous for Tour Operators, Airlines, Cruise Ships, State Border Crossings (that to date have close Australia down) and extend to other entertainment and restaurant markets.

The greatest challenge will be to educate the public and governments. We must learn to "live with the virus". Controlling the it requires testing identify where it is and where it is going. The current tactic is to pursue eradication. As long as the virus continues to be out there I would argue that the tactics and strategy must change. Embracing technology advances to re-open the Tourism and other Industries is the imperative.

In conclusion, I live in hope that people will start taking about the Quick Reaction Testing. Please share this article with a friend. It may just get us out of the mess we find ourselves in a little sooner.

John Karmouche 0419359628


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