Skip to main content

Uncanny Valley: Healthcare Workers in Settings of Controlled COVID-19 Response

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Caring on the Frontline during COVID-19

Abstract

Australia confirmed its first COVID-19 case on January 25, 2020, and closed its international borders to non-residents on March 20, 2020. Australia’s capital city Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), reported its first COVID-19 case on March 12. By mid-2021, the ACT had recorded 124 cases, of whom 3 had died. Most of these cases occurred during April 2020 followed by a smattering of additional cases through to July. The ACT is unusual internationally for managing to avoid a serious outbreak and it presents a contrast to the two large nearby states of Victoria and New South Wales.

Internationally, where COVID-19 outbreaks have been intense, healthcare workers (HCWs) have been placed under severe pressure, risking their mental and physical health. Australian HCWs reported elevated levels of distress and fear as they learned what was happening to their international counterparts. At the same time, Australian HCWs became the focus of community anxiety and occasionally public attack in the media about the risk they posed to others. This chapter considers the ACT’s health response to COVID-19. A qualitative study by medical students, anthropologists and sociologists at the Australian National University describes the experiences of healthcare workers from a range of settings and services who reflect on changes to their workplaces as they prepared for the pandemic and their feelings as they wait for a disease outbreak that has not yet come and still may not.

The unique experience of COVID-19 in the ACT exposes what it means for a highly trained workforce to be in a perpetual state of readiness. This chapter discusses some unanticipated yet important consequences.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 119.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Cathy Banwell .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Banwell, C. et al. (2022). Uncanny Valley: Healthcare Workers in Settings of Controlled COVID-19 Response. In: Vindrola-Padros, C., Johnson, G.A. (eds) Caring on the Frontline during COVID-19. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-6486-1_9

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-6486-1_9

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-16-6485-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-16-6486-1

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics