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 bottle of gin!
Take care; take heart.
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