The avoidance of medical catastrophe from COVID-19 in South Australia to date has meant that the principle story the COVID-19 pandemic and its health impact on South Australia has been much more one of social and economic impacts than a medically-focused story. However, social and economic impacts have significant consequences for health and wellbeing, prevention and access to health services and information.
The major societal changes that occurred as a result of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic were, firstly, widespread loss of work, as many workplaces were required to shut down or restrictions meant heavily reduced capacity to trade, and secondly, a large transition of many aspects of society to online settings (particularly while major restrictions were in place). The experiences and impact relating to these societal changes were not experienced equally across the South Australian community and had short term impacts as well as likely, very long-term consequences.
The COVID-19 pandemic and government responses to it served to further highlight and exacerbate already-existing vulnerabilities of at-risk and more vulnerable population groups, mitigated by some positive steps.
It is timely to consider the experiences of 2020 and what can be learnt from them, in order to better support our state's future responses, not only in the pandemic or emergency context but as part of our overall activity in health and wellbeing, health promotion and disease prevention.