Lockdowns, restrictions, masks mandates – it suddenly feels very deja vu virus. It shouldn’t be like this, and the government, and us, are to blame.
Well, here we are again. Covid wise, it suddenly feels a lot like March 2020 across Australia.
We thought we’d seen the back of nationwide restrictions. Now they’re all the rage, it seems.
In Sydney, where the vast majority of residents haven’t had a lockdown for more than a year, baking has begun in earnest; activewear has been rediscovered as people decide, en masse, that midwinter is indeed the perfect time for some outdoor exercise; Zoom passwords, long forgotten, have been reset.
And it isn’t just Sydney; cases are popping up like hibachis on MasterChef.
In the Northern Territory, a snap lockdown has been announced; masks are now the must-have accessory in Perth, Brisbane, and even Canberra, the latter of which has precisely zero cases. Melbourne, the expert at lockdowns, must be feeling a bit left out.
Within a week, we’ve gone from everyone telling Sydney “you got this” to “we’re all in this together”. It’s all very deja vu virus.
But it shouldn’t be. This shouldn’t be happening. We’re here because of laziness and complacency. And to be honest, it’s kind of embarrassing.
Look around the world. In many countries, a level of normalcy is returning. Americans, you know those people that live in the most Covid ravaged nation on earth? They’re now sunning themselves on Greek beaches.
Meanwhile, Sydneysiders are banned from sunning themselves on Gold Coast beaches.
Several fingers can be pointed at the recent spate of cases. Did NSW fail by locking down too late? Why was the aircrew driver not vaccinated? Should Queensland have forced a Covid-free Victorian traveling to Covid-free NT to spend time in hotel quarantine, where he got Covid?
All relevant questions. But all of this would matter far less if it were not for two things: hotel quarantine fails and a lack of vaccines.
Hotel quarantine – where people get Covid
Depending on who you speak to, hotel quarantine is either actually pretty good at keeping Covid at bay, considering the number of people who’ve flown in, or it’s a leaky shambles.
A recent paper from Melbourne University and New Zealand’s Otago University found 4.9 failures per 1000 positive cases in quarantine, reported The Conversation.
Not all of these lead to a lockdown, but it’s clear hotel quarantine is not a perfect system.
The Bendigo miner can attest to the very system designed to prevent Covid can also delivering it. And as we now know from the aircrew driver, HQ can be let down by its methods.
All these problems have been raised before. And yet, where’s the solution? HQ continues to fall between the planks of the federal and state governments. In the void, decisions to improve the system have been shamblingly slow and protracted.
Yet even this wouldn’t be as much of an issue if Australia had enough vaccines.
How is it we’ve gone from world leader on combating Covid-19, by keeping cases down, to laughing stock, for having vaccinated so few people?
On Monday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that 24 people out of 30 at a party in western Sydney became infected. Only six are negative thus far. What do those six have in common? They were vaccinated.
If you look at the Group of 20 leading economies, Australia ranks 18th on the job ladder.
We have fully inoculated just 4.7 percent of the population. Britain and America are at 48 and 46 percent respectively.
Only India and South Africa have a more dire record.
It smells a lot like complacency from both the federal government and, well, us.
Those nations that were being torn apart by coronavirus last year moved heaven and earth to secure vaccines.
Australia seemed to take a more pedestrian approach. Sure, we had some bad luck; our homegrown vaccine wasn’t approved.
But we then had only two left on the shelf. Really, only one-and-a-half: AstraZeneca with a light dusting of Pfizer.
Even the UK, the home of AstraZeneca, had more vaccine variants on order.
RELATED: Zero cases: The Covid-19 statistic Australia has to wean itself off
The government was lazy, and so were we
AZ was hampered by the minimal side effect of blood clots.
That scared off some people. But can we blame them when the prime minister decided to call an emergency press conference in the evening of an April weeknight to announce it was being restricted? Was all that drama really necessary?
Many rattled Australians who could get AZ is “waiting for Pfizer” as if the right thing to do is pick shots like we do shaved ham at the deli counter.
They’ve judged the risk of getting Covid is less than the risk of clots.
Well, now the Delta strain’s on the loose, and some of those at higher risk are unprotected. Good job all.
Vast chunks of the British population got AstraZeneca because they recognized the chance of falling ill from Covid-19 was far more likely than falling ill from a jab.
Yes, the UK is having a rise in cases. However, hospitalizations are far below where they were during any previous waves.
Now many Brits are readying themselves for overseas summer holidays. Just as many Australians are now preparing themselves for weeks of sourdough baking or calming cabin feverish kids while in lockdown.
It was inevitable that Covid was going to leak out again. We should have spent the time building up our defenses.
But we didn’t. Australia was lazy. So now we’re staring deja vu virus in the face.