20/04/2020 - 19:49

Dealing with the Impact on WA

20/04/2020 - 19:49

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Of late, we have typed coronavirus or COVID-19 into our mobile devices so often that if mistyped, the spelling is automatically corrected. Since December 2019, COVID-19 has profoundly impacted global health and our social systems.

Of late, we have typed coronavirus or COVID-19 into our mobile devices so often that if mistyped, the spelling is automatically corrected. Since December 2019, COVID-19 has profoundly impacted global health and our social systems.

The strategy taken by governments and regulatory agencies to limit community spread of the virus by social distancing is allowing us to prepare for peak infection and provides the time scientists desperately need to develop rapid screening techniques and protective vaccines.  

The University of Western Australia’s response to the needs of the WA community ranges from the production and provision of hand sanitiser, through to new research to understand and model the spread of the virus. 

Collaborative work being developed through the Faculty of Science (DNA Zoo) with colleagues from Baylor College of Medicine in the US on understanding the epidemiology of COVID-19 could prove critical in managing how we ‘exit’ from a community-wide period of distancing and self-isolation.  

Self-isolation poses challenges for many in our communities, and in times of such uncertainty it is normal for us all to feel worried and anxious. The physical isolation necessary to maintain social distancing can be challenging and can leave many feeling disconnected and alone. In response, experienced clinical psychologists from the School of Psychological Science, and UWA’s Robin Winkler Clinic, are providing community support through a free, eight-week, online group therapy program (https://uwa.edu.au/facilities/robin-winkler-clinic). 

The School is also working with the UWA Health Promotion unit on a series of short videos to help people deal with other manifestations of stress: such as managing sleep, mindfulness, and feelings of isolation.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on education, with many school students now studying from home. To support teachers and parents, UWA’s Faculty of Science and the Graduate School of Education have made available a suite of science resources, including work sheets and study notes for teachers, students and parents. The online site (https://www.uwa.edu.au/science/resources/science-resources-for-teachers) also includes links to other sources of learning materials suitable for students from primary school through to Year 12. 

For parents with younger children, the UWA KIDDO program (https://kiddo.edu.au/kiddo-at-home) is helping families stay active by providing free activities, challenges and videos for children aged three to eight. These can be done at home, to encourage active movement and to provide a boost to mental and physical health.

Written By Professor Tony O’Donnell, Executive Dean, Faculty of Science, and Associate Professor Frances Hoyle, Associate Dean (Community and Engagement), Faculty of Science, The University of Western Australia

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