The Covid Chronicles #12

It has been a very frustrating week in Sydney as we have watched the latest Covid-19 outbreak take hold.

A few factors this time around seem to have caught Health and Government officials by surprise somehow.

We all know there will be the occasional leak from hotel quarantine. That’s another story. (Poor Queensland and NT are going through a separate situation with a miner who may have exposed 900 colleagues to the delta variant!)

Up until, and including this past week, we have had incredible confidence in the ability of NSW contact tracers to track down all close contacts very quickly. What doesn’t seem to be have been factored in this time around, though, is the variant on the loose – the extremely contagious delta strain. I’m still puzzled why stronger restrictions weren’t put into place the previous week, especially for the main suburbs affected at the time. It probably would have stopped the super-spreader birthday party event. But maybe not. It’s not as easy to shut-down an inner city beachside suburb as it is to isolate northern Sydney, like we did at Christmas. It’s hard to believe, though, that politics are not playing a part in some of the decision making, despite protestations to the contrary, by our politicians.

But the main factor that has not been considered with this third major outbreak in Sydney, is the disturbing ‘don’t care’ attitude, I’m seeing and hearing, in the community at large. I know we can’t keep locking down every time there’s a hotel quarantine leak. And as more people get vaccinated we can move from being zero-covid tolerant to learning to live with it. But we’re not there yet. Not enough Australians are vaccinated yet. Including me.

The week I was due to have my Astra-Zeneca shot, the rules changed for under 60’s. My appointment was automatically cancelled. Trouble is, Australia does not have enough doses of Pfizer. The first appointment I could get was in mid August.

This time around in Sydney, there is a lot of mask avoidant behaviour, a holiday mood has infected some and there is a tremendous amount of trying to find ways out of following the new restrictions. The huge number of families who fled Sydney hours before the lockdown was announced to get to their school holiday destinations. People trying to find holiday camps in surrounding suburbs for their kids to attend because the local ones have been cancelled. So many people who don’t seem to understand the do-not-mix-with-other-people rule that is at the heart of a stay-at-home lockdown. Or even the stay-at-home part. Judging by what I have seen in the past week, this variant is going to keep on spreading, purely and simply because of us.

Admittedly, my suburb has not been directly affected by this outbreak (yet). And if we do, that very first positive case will see three-hour long queues develop instantaneously outside our local testing centre. But right now, it’s business as usual, with masks. Although, I had one very unpleasant man, at work today, who refused to wear a mask, stating that the whole thing was ‘a beat up’. He wanted me to take his word for it that he didn’t have covid.

As of today, NSW has 226 cases locally acquired cases. 188 are part of the Bondi cluster. Apparently, we can take heart, that our daily number are not trebling at this point like they have done with previous clusters, and as they were expecting.

Some people may be working from home, but they’re not staying at home. They’re out walking, chatting in the street, going shopping. I know this is a relative soft lockdown compared to last year’s, but let’s just say, I don’t like people very much this week. As someone who has had to deal with general-jo-public for eight hours every day this week, my patience, and the vague underlying anxiety that went with every encounter, has been tried too far. I’m exhausted. A little over-wrought. And I’m in complete and utter awe of all the supermarket and pharmacy workers who have been dealing with this the whole time, during every single lockdown, across the country.

Last night, a long soak in a bubble bath did the trick; tonight I think it will take a gin bottle!

Take care; take heart. And stay home, if you’re in Sydney.

19 thoughts on “The Covid Chronicles #12

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the current situation in Sydney.
    Life is just not the same….even though more are vaccinated and lockdowns loosen.
    We are emerging from restrictions…yet the thought of a surge in the fall/winter 2021 is still present in my mind. Fully vaccinated but I still read of people nevertheless getting covid.
    Life is just not the same. Stay strong and enjoy your G&T.

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    1. Thanks for your message Nancy. I was having a bit of a rant at the end of a trying week. I know that Europe is just emerging from a long, dark winter. Every country, every state has had its own trials & tribulations. We all have a story to tell. Thank you for listening to mine today. Stay safe, stay strong.

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  2. “And I’m in complete and utter awe of all the supermarket and pharmacy workers who have been dealing with this the whole time, during every single lockdown, across the country.” That’s a really nice thing to say Brona. I think you are right.

    Sometimes it’s good to be older!! I’m in my 60s so I am now completely vaccinated. That said, I’m not impressed by having the AZ, not so much because of the risk which is very low, but because of its significantly lower effectiveness. As Norman Swan said on The Drum, we AZ people will need a Pfizer/Moderna booster later in the year. I’m unhappy with the government’s whole approach to the vaccination program. However, I AM glad to be “fully” vaccinated right now. It is better than not, and it did give us a feeling of a measure of safety when we went to Victoria in June.

    I am sorry that you are seeing such an attitude in Sydney. We Canberrans are under our first ever mandatory mask orders (indoors) and people are complying. Of course, we have had it easy here with no lockdowns since the original one we all had. I have no idea what the situation would be if we’d had several soft and hard lockdowns.

    I do think that people are forgetting the huge losses people have had overseas. Prorata, if we’d been like the USA, we’d have around 60,000 dead instead of 1,000. That’s a HUGE difference.

    Anyhow, rant rant rant. I hope you enjoyed your gin!

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    1. The gin was lovely thank you. I’d been saving a small bottle of four pillars shiraz gin for just such a winter’s night. It did the trick!

      Thinking about the numbers of cases and deaths overseas is a sobering reminder why the zero approach, although hard in other ways, has cushioned us from the harsh realities of covid. My parents (in their late 70’s) got their first dose during the week. But they’re in rural NSW, so the roll out has been much slower there.

      Thanks for listening Sue.

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  3. It all feels never ending doesn’t it. The vaccination programme in UK has been one of the best things our government did to deal with the pandemic – very high level of people now have had double doses. Unbelievably there are still many people who were eligible who have not turned up to get the dose.

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    1. I saw some figures during the week, and I think you are over 50% fully vaccinated in the UK – that’s VERY impressive Karen. In Australia only 6% of us are fully vaccinated.
      The worldwide figure is also very low – only 11%. We have a long way to go.

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  4. I sympathize with the frustration of trying to get a vaccination. My husband and I are both over 70, although in good health, so I was frustrated with the process, although we patiently waited to be contacted by our health care organization and that finally came through. (We are in Santa Barbara, California, and I think the small townish area had less access to the vaccine but also less cases.) But I felt helpless, even though we were staying at home and not in contact with the public, like you are in your work.

    And you are so right about the supermarket employees, many of whom have no option but to keep working. I was scared every time I walked into a grocery store, and the workers were there all day, every day.

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    1. Every country has their own issues in getting vaccinations out to their population.
      Our government focused on the A-Z vac as it was one that we could make locally. Trouble is now, it’s only recommended for use by over 60’s and we don’t have enough Pfizer (and no Moderna at all) to go around.
      I hope all the supermarket workers were able to line up for the first round of vacs along with the medical groups.

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      1. In Santa Barbara County, supermarket workers (and such) were prioritized the same as medical workers and could get them early. How well that actually worked for them, I don’t know. The frustrating thing was that the state and county kept changing their minds on priorities and there were low amounts of vaccine available at first. But I think everyone was trying to do the best they could.

        I did not realize about the issues with vaccines in Australia.

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  5. I’m sorry and thanks for the insight. Here in Canada, almost all restrictions where lifted yesterday and I’m not sure how I feel. Our politicians are pushing the line that vaccines will save us from Delta, and our roll out’s been pretty fast lately, but I just don’t know! Have definitely observed the same “looking for loopholes” behaviour here in previous waves and it’s very frustrating.

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    1. It must be such a relief to know you can go out if you want to, but after being in lockdown conditions for so long, many people are struggling to transition back into the world. Introverts, in particular, are feeling quite anxious about getting back out there.
      I think that was part of my struggle this past week. As an introvert, I would have happily stayed at home this week and avoided all contact with people outside my family.

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  6. I’m sorry, Brona — it’s awful. I hate to think of everybody out in Sydney not-masking, when you’re so close to a better way. (If you see what I mean.) Best wishes for hanging in there.

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    1. I should clarify that most people are masking, but the 10% who need to be reminded to wear a mask in shop, or to wear their mask properly is VERY frustrating. It’s such a small thing to do and it actually does help to stop spread germs.
      Thanks to masks and social distancing, I haven’t even had a cold this past 18 months!

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  7. ‘I don’t like people very much this week’ – oh I hear you! Coming out of lockdown is a strange experience and going by behaviour here in NI, most people seem to think Covid is over, when it is far from it.

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    1. I’m an introvert that has learnt to be more gregarious to get by in this world. It’s not natural for me though and exhausts me. I could have happily stayed at home this week and not seen anybody but my family or the occasional dog walker to nod my head at as we go by each other in the park. Dealing with other people’s intrusive or thoughtless behaviours just adds to the stress I feel.

      I see that you are nearly 50% fully vaccinated in NI though, so that will help.
      We’ve just had three positive cases in a nursing home, that initially made us all groan ‘oh no’! But, it turns out they are fully vaccinated, and so far, showing no signs of being unwell. The vaccine does work at slowing the transmission down and reducing the severity of symptoms. Fingers crossed.

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  8. Obviously you have been dealing with the whackos you health minister was talking about (in Saturday’s paper). I’m disagreeing with Sue all over the place this weekend. I think it was logical for the government to plump initially for AZ which could be and now is made here. And my memory is that UK figures show that it is remarkably effective in preventing deaths. But yes, I’ll get a Moderna top up as soon as it is available (next year after all the kids are done at the current rate). The expectations are that should be enough to last the rest of my life.

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    1. Thankfully only the one full-on whacko. It’s the 10% who you have to remind to wear their mask in our shop, or to wear them properly that really does my head in! I just don’t understand the resistance.
      Thanks to mask wearing and social distancing, I haven’t even had a cold in 18 months.

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  9. I’m so sorry. We do have good vaccination here, but still people are being very lax and it’s freaking me out a LOT. I am staying dialled right down, although I have been to the dentists (I had to) and the hairdressers (very much safer inside than the street outside was). Wishing you calm waters and compliant people around you.

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    1. Thanks Liz.
      I know what you mean by being dialled right down. I’ve only been on public transport a handful of times in 18 mnths. I’ve also only been into the city proper a few times. I haven’t been back to the movies since March last year, although I have seen three live shows. Two were ones that were postponed at the beginning of Covid last year, so we’re not really rushing out to book new shows. I haven’t been to an art gallery or museum either. I really miss that.

      Thankfully Mr Books has been happy to tackle to supermarket this week. I didn’t think I could cope with work AND the supermarket crowds.

      I hope you find some nice, quiet places to run and walk this summer.

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