COVID-19 restrictions may be easing across the country but for the unfortunate few still stuck in mandatory quarantine after returning from overseas life is still very much in lockdown.
To temper the burden placed on the quarantined, as well as the boredom, the Red Cross has launched a new calling service to ensure those in isolation have someone to talk to.
Several local Red Cross volunteers have taken on the task, joining the Personal Support Red Cross Team, who are trained to support people and their mental health in times of strife.
Wyoming’s Graham Black is one such volunteer and he’s never been busier.
“We have been working overtime during the bush fires west of Gosford and down south, floods around southern part of Tuggerah Lake and now the COVID-19 stress.
“Many of those quarantined at hotels around Sydney already had to endure isolation periods from wherever they flew in from.
“Many also live interstate and are required to do another 14 days in isolation when they return home.
“It’s not easy for these people to be so isolated with only their one suitcase of clothes and hopefully a laptop or phone, so they are usually delighted to receive our helpful calls where we can guide them through different ways to occupy their days, fix issues they may have with the hotels or discuss family issues with them as they wish,” Black said.
According to Black, since he started calling, he’d heard many stories of just how tough some of those forced into hotel quarantine were doing it.
“One lady with a 1-year-old could not get the right food for her baby.
“A smoker did not ask for a smoking room so had major withdrawal when I phoned – I soon got him a smoker’s room.
“They are not allowed out of their rooms and I was surprised when one guy said he had run 15km around his room.
“He moved the bed and had his pedometer going.
Something that surprised Black was the number of isolated who, despite their struggles, were not angry about the situation they were forced into.
“Before I started the daily calls, I envisaged a number of the isolated would be angry and not be able to justify not going straight home, but despite their trauma they were very supportive of the government’s decision to keep Australia as safe as possible and were generally happy with the hotel.
“I must admit a few enjoyed the chance to rant, but I knew it did them good and they settled down by the end of the call.
The calling service builds on a wider initiative of the Red Cross, COVID CONNECT.
COVID CONNECT is a new national call service that anyone struggling during the pandemic can register for to receive phone calls from Red Cross volunteers.
“We know the one thing many of us are missing right now is human contact.
“For those who are living alone or who are in isolation this becomes more acute.
Anyone interested in registering for COVID CONNECT can do so by visiting the Red Cross’ website or by calling 1800 733 276.
Email, May 18
Graham Black, Australian Red Cross