from Anne in Adelaide, Australia: A visit to the dentist – is this the new normal?

24 November

Turned into a beauty

We have had it easy in South Australia. No question. Masks are not mandatory and even spraying with hand sanitiser at the entrance to every shop is not well observed. Our relative infection rate and death rate are less than a 30th of the USA’s. Life here is almost normal. Almost – except when you go to the dentist.

Yesterday, I went to my dentist’s surgery for a check-up and clean. In doing so, I realised that they are taking Covid-19 very seriously. This is the process I went through.

First, there were multiple warnings on the door as to the numbers allowed in and asking you to go away if your health was compromised in any way.

Once inside, I approached Reception where three staff were seated behind a continuous plexiglass barrier. I was first directed to sign in – not digitally I must say. Then I was asked to read through a lengthy list of venues: four full close-typed pages.

‘Please let us know,’ the receptionist said, ‘if you have been to any of these places.’

The list was a comprehensive listing of all sorts of venues (listed next to a time) that were of concern to our contact tracers as a result of the recent ‘Parafield Cluster’ outbreak. The list revealed the wandering life of a very busy extended family: several primary and high schools, a major hospital, early learning centres, lots of buses (routes and times listed), bus stations, hotels, pubs, many shopping centres, many supermarkets, doctors’ surgeries, cafes, chemists, swimming pools etc. Over 50 places.

I could answer, ‘No’ because they all showed that the wandering infected people had been north of the city and luckily, I had not taken a bus in the last two weeks.

Once I told the receptionist I was not a suspect connected to these many places, (I can now understand why so many thousands are currently in quarantine,) my temperature was taken with one of those hand-held gun things.

I was now prepared for my be-masked hygienist. With her there was yet another protocol before the procedure could start –  I had to rinse twice with some anti-septic, counting to 30 each time.

On the drive home I marvelled at how well-behaved we are in Australia. Few complain, few protest. It appears that the Victorian people in our neighbouring state, have already forgiven Premier Daniel Andrews and his government for their ‘cock-up’ months ago.

Sun, blue and purple: summer

Most important news is that our streets have exploded in a riot of jacaranda blossom and the sidewalks are festooned with fallen flowers. They always remind me of Durban, South Africa, and the annual exam season (flowering in November – year-end examination time in South Africa: ‘purple panic’ in Queensland).

There was a story at our Natal university in Durban that if you stood under a jacaranda tree, gazing upward, and caught a blossom as it fell, you would pass your exams! It seemed to be counter-productive advice. I did not try it.

The jacarandas in Adelaide seem especially magnificent this year. Maybe we are now more observant, more sensitive to the world around us.

There has to be something positive that comes out of all this.

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