‘‘The fear of going into a Covid world is much worse than actually living in a Covid world.’’
For former Oamaru Mail reporter Gus Patterson, life in Melbourne is starting to return to normal, after Omicron tore through Australia’s second-largest city this summer.
While Covid-19 was still present in the city, restrictions were easing and Melbourne residents were getting used to living with the virus, Mr Patterson said.
‘‘People have felt really cooped up for two years, and they’re now able to do things,’’ he said.
‘‘The general vibe of Melbourne seems to be a lot better than what it was six months ago.’’
Mr Patterson tested positive for Covid about a month ago, three days after his partner Abby Robinson had, and he was one of the last of his friends and colleagues to get the virus.
When Omicron really started to sweep across Australia in December, he and Miss Robinson were in New Zealand, after securing a spot in MIQ and spending Christmas and New Year at home.
‘‘Everyone kind of got it then, so I was a bit later on on the bell curve than most,’’ he said.
Returning to Melbourne in early January, Mr Patterson said he did not know what to expect, and there was ‘‘definitely a sense of Covid anxiety’’ even though he was double- vaccinated.
‘‘But waiting for Covid to hit is probably worse than when Covid does hit,’’ he said.
‘‘When you’re there, it’s pretty normal. I would say 90% of the people I hang out with or spend time with have had Covid by now — it’d be unusual to have a young person who hasn’t had it over here.’’
Mr Patterson, who grew up in Waimate, likened his personal experience with Covid to having a ‘‘nasty flu’’.
‘‘I probably had three really s*** days, mainly just fevery,’’ he said.
‘‘It was also like 35degC every day, so I was just sweating a lot and very fatigued.’’
His health gradually improved, but he was still tired and short of breath the following week.
He did not feel any ongoing effects of the virus now, but acknowledged everyone’s experience was different — and there had been about 5000 Covid-19-related deaths in Australia.
‘‘The other thing over here for me is . . .I don’t really hang out with any older people or immunocompromised people. So I have the luxury, I suppose, of only having to worry about myself. Whereas, I feel, at home, you know, you go visit your nana or you’re going to interact with older people a lot more often that I’d be probably a lot more wary of who I passed it on to.’’
After Melbourne claimed the unenviable title of most locked down city in the world in October last year, the following month most Covid restrictions were lifted for fully vaccinated people. But the Omicron outbreak had prompted many Australians to stay home on self-imposed lockdowns, Mr Patterson said.
Most people who could work from home had been doing so for some time now — and expectations around work flexibility and work-life balance had changed a lot, he said.
‘‘That’s probably been a positive thing to come out of it all. There are certain things that we had to go through with Covid which, actually, people enjoyed — and now they’re not that keen on giving up on them.’’
This week, the Victorian Government announced its ‘‘work-from-home’’ advisory would end at 11.59pm tonight, and masks would no longer be needed in most indoor settings, including offices. Health Minister Martin Foley announced the changes, citing declining Covid-19 hospitalisations and an increase in third dose vaccination rates as the reason.
‘‘It seems like it’s sort of tapering off now, to the point where, I’d say, you kind of forget that Covid’s a thing — it’s definitely not in the news cycle as much as before it hit,’’ Mr Patterson said.
Despite the Covid-related challenges he has faced in Melbourne, Mr Patterson is pleased he made the move across the ditch. He is working in recruitment in the commercial construction industry, and Miss Robinson is studying critical care nursing, while working as a nurse at Melbourne’s Box Hill Hospital.