Stella Coram August 28, 2021

I begin by declaring my bias if not gleaned by the heading. I agree on the need for lockdown.

One could be forgiven for thinking that ‘living with Covid-19’ is the only option available. As a key policy framework for nations with vaccination rates in the order of 70%, and on the verge of reaching ‘herd immunity’, it has a ring of pragmatism to it. This, of course, is underscored by the fact that we are confronted with a virulent and invisible enemy that is taken to be impossible to supress and so we must get on with it in terms of our lives and lively hoods. Governments assure us that they will do everything to ensure that disruption to our lives be kept to a minimum.

I don’t buy this. The notion of opening up, to live with Covid, is the equivalent of throwing in the towel. For starters, there are far too important ‘unknowns’ suggesting a massive risk for governments to take. For instance, what are the long-term effects of Covid on the population, assuming that most people will get it at some point, and how will the next variant be dealt with? I can appreciate that many steps already in place will become part of everyday life for the foreseeable future such as quarantine, testing, QR check-ins, contact tracing, mask wearing and social distancing, in addition to planning initiatives such as a vaccination passport, home quarantine for the fully vaccinated, and so on. But, what about the sovereign citizens who refuse to wear a mask or get vaccinated and what about the medical professionals who will be expected to risk their lives caring for the infected? Did they sign up for this when they embarked on a career in medicine? And, the bottom line, who gets to die? Children? Old folk? The young and fit? And what kind of death do we imagine? A peaceful one surrounded by loved ones? Think again. Will this be tolerable so long as it is not us?  Is this what living with Covid comes down to?

Are we in danger of saying “yes” before fully realising what it is we are consenting to? Is this what conservatives are hoping for so that they can get off the hook of having to manage the virus and blame ‘it’ for their failures? Here’s a thought bubble: Once we concede to this, we will ultimately surrender our consent, and with it our capacity to be human. That is to settle for gross breaches of human decency and economic exploitation. With the setting of the dye (precedent), there is no going back. There is a corporation looking to make a bag of money out of this and it is not the poor little ‘worker’ who must do as he or she is told just to keep a lousy two-bit job servicing the privileged and wealthy. Governments will fall on the side of business and the rest will be history.

Here’s another thought bubble: Forget the rock star experts. They speak so much meaningless dribble, not wanting to offend anyone, or being politicised, themselves, it is hardly worth listening to them. Alas, the noteworthy ones, who rely on science, are likely silenced or misrepresented so that they unintentionally end up serving as a mouthpiece for incompetent governments.

Assertion is getting in the way of reasoned argument. To claim that Covid is impossible to eliminate including the much more virulent Delta strain is lazy. As I understand it: Covid cannot survive without a host of which it has extraordinary powers finding especially weak spots to exploit, to transmit through, like people partying. Furthermore, it can only be present in the community because it has been allowed to leak into the community, namely from quarantine. All outbreaks in Australia have their origins in leaks from quarantine. Once it is out, its out and needless to say very hard to stop. Logic suggests then that the first line of defence would be to do everything possible to kill it off at the starting gate before it gets going.

 

One case is not just one case – unattended it is the equivalent of a pandemic. Until we get that we cannot afford to kid ourselves that one case does not matter and that there is no need for lockdown we invite trouble. One case is precisely the time for short sharp lockdown to break the chains of transmission since seeding has already occurred. This is the least amount of disruption and far more preferrable to long drawn-out quasi efforts ordered after the horse has bolted.

It staggers me that people seemingly forget that parts of Australia have successfully eliminated Delta outbreaks and that not all of Australia is in lockdown. Why is that? Do parts of the country do it better than others? Should they be expected to jeopardise their safety by opening up to the rest of country where Delta is running rampant?  Hardly seems fair since they have done everything right to be in the happy relatively carefree position they are. I have family and friends in Western Australia and they are living the life.

My guess is that the task for ‘liberal’ governments is to reject lockdown implying that the only alternative is to ‘live with Covid’ (LWV) – the unstated policy outcome. This smacks of being sold the lie that we have no choice which I find repugnant and choose to argue for the exact opposite on the following grounds. To reject LWV means to approach Covid from a standpoint of integrity: to strive for ground zero case numbers but with the option of having flexibility to adjust settings when conditions improve. LWV is to be reactive with eyes wide shut and the latter proactive with eyes wide open. There is no going back once we open up. That door is shut permanently. Is that what we truly want? Are we really cognisant of this?

Some pollies lack courage. They want the love of the people. They want to please their constituents by being liberal, and talking the language of ‘freedoms’. They want to show that they can govern with a discreet hand. No ‘heavy handed’ restrictions or mandating for them lest they be seen to stand in way of civil liberties. They will beguile us with freedoms, but to our detriment. The virus is not the only thing looking for loopholes. People do too because they want to do what they want to do including travel outside of restricted areas. Not surprisingly, this is an open invitation for the virus to hitch a ride with them. That is why restrictions coupled with mandates to get vaccinated are so important for protecting ourselves as much as others. To concede to LWV means everyone pays a price for failures in policy.

Some are just downright lazy. Vaccinations are crucial to our health. Yet Australia has been rightly criticised for its snail pace in securing vaccines from international suppliers and is seemingly dragging its feet on establishing infrastructure to manufacture vaccines. With variants expected to emerge and the need for annual boosters to maintain protection this makes perfect sense. It goes without saying that home grown vaccination would be very good for the economy too.

Some play (or are ‘forced’ by circumstances to play) fast and loose with the truth. We have been told that quarantine has been successful. Yet, so far, there have been 27 leaks from hotel quarantine in Australia (Hartcher, “Australia at its best and worst”, The Age, August 28). To claim it a success is incredibly selective. One leak is one too many.

How they can play politics I do not know. I guess it’s because they pretend to themselves that they are not responsible for the delivery on policy, only on the making of policy. The trick is to not be responsible which is one reason why outsourcing is so popular. That way they can announce some feel good stuff and then look the other way early when things turn pear shaped knowing they have a get-out-of-jail card, the excuse of blaming Covid. Some are unbelievably stupid pumping out lunatic conspiracies.

Alas, our political leaders prefer to play politics preoccupied with perception than reality. Some are quick to take vicious swipes at others who prefer to take a cautious approach by going into lockdown which is selectively misrepresented as heavy handed and draconian. I imagine that they are defending their own dubious record since they would not want to be shown up for getting it wrong should that turn out to be the case. Better for them that everyone to be in the same sinking boat and to pretend that we will come out of this pandemic eventually than actually do something of substance. Getting quarantine right would be a good place to start.

There is another important component to this that has to be factored in. Australia appears to be morphing into a little America. We have a similar cohort of angry citizens who are preoccupied with their sovereign rights, are extremely suspicious of government, and express their defiance through violent or aggressive means. This is a flashpoint to be resolved meaningfully otherwise we could witness an Australian version of Capitol Hill before year’s end.

That sounds pretty extreme I know but there is a problem that has been ‘quietly’ festering before Covid came along. Australia is a disaffected and discombobulated society with growing economic and social inequality. Naziism, and related racism, is on the rise too. And on top of that there are numerous but disproportionate regulations, depending on location, to adhere to that are in turn subject to change. Covid restrictions are an excuse for angry citizens to act out. Economic pain and governmental disregard are the forces behind protest. People crave belonging but there is none to be had especially at work and now with family. Revolutionary like zeal fills the gap.

How might we begin to understand the rise of the sovereign citizen? It does not help that the political classes are largely shielded from the actuality of Covid. But then the sovereigns contribute to the debacle in their own way too. They too inhabit a world not of reality. In pre-Covid times, we might have gone to the movies, a no-no now. Cue social media, the ‘gap-filler’ of our time. Little devices, the ubiquitous mobile phone, have singlehandedly turned the masses toward fantasy to explain reality. They have stopped listening to government to instead put their trust in the wonder-world of conspiracy peddled online. It’s like a fix, a new high. Sensing electoral backlash, and not wanting to get them offside, some leaders wilt to perceived pressure.

Just like ‘Cowardly Lion’ in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of OZ (1900), who shakes from fear of the unknown as he navigates the mysteries of the yellow brick road with orphan Dorothy Gale and companions Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, politicians wilt.

So, how are politicians cowardly? Many are extremely reluctant to mandate vaccinations lest they be accused of running a ‘nanny state’ and risk getting punished at the ballot box. I get the cautionary approach to mandatory vaccination due to legalities but this was not a problem as it is now until recently. Whereas it was once accepted vaccination is now a choice. To equivocate on this, it would seem that electoral success is more important than serving the people.

Some try to get around making the ‘hard’ decisions by being ‘discretionary’ with as little restrictions possible, and only at the last minute, to keep the economy going and to stay in the good books with constituents by granting concessions.

Some turn a blind eye. They let the capitalists capitalise on the misery of others. There is no expectation, at least from the Australian federal government, that household goods giant Harvey Norman pay back the millions it pocketed under the federal job keeper scheme intended to support retention of its ‘workers’. Again, the disparity here is profit at one end and loss at the other.

Some seem to have surrounded themselves in a bubble of false reality that enables them to not see the facts of spiralling deaths. They look the other way or rely on their smoke and mirrors to hide the truth. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to pull this one by relying on a compliant media to talk up any good news whilst thousands of people were dying.

Some are just plain stupid (Craig Kelley). Goodness knows how Kelly explains people in hospital on breathing machines. ‘Fake news’ I suppose. Nothing is real. Our worlds have been flipped. The ‘real’ world is social media and the ‘unreal’ world is the one we live in.

Some are plain lazy. It is inexcusably for the federal government to lack oversight on the single most preeminent means by which Covid is spread – in the air – and not take the appropriate course of action to ensure that this cannot happen. Of course, mistakes can be made resulting in a leak. The obvious in response is to lock down straight away. The reason being that for one case found, there are already potential seedings in the community not yet known about.

To ‘run it to ground’ as the Victorian government is fond of saying is the only way to control a leak. That way, it is possible to get back to near ground zero and thus retain some flexibility for re-opening up. Here are two policy fundamentals for Covid: 1) do not allow for any weakness in the quarantine system to enable a leak to occur and 2) as soon as a leak has been identified go straight into lockdown. That way, this need only be short and sharp. Unfortunately, some jurisdictions have hesitated, waited for things to get out of hand, before deciding to respond, whereas others have not hesitated and consequently enjoy ‘freedoms’ denied the hesitant. There is more than one reality to Covid. Stay on top early or suffer drawn out misery.

In the absence of a clear policy directive to cut through denialism, coupled with repeated failures to supress outbreaks, some float the lazy-go to directive of having to learn to “live with Covid” (LWV). They either cannot be bothered having to think harder or do not have the capacity to be able to think harder. Instead, they limply urge citizens to “do the right thing”. This is futile for those who disregard pleas to stay at home. They have a choice – as they see it – to comply or to not comply. Many choose the latter.

=Nonetheless, I do not envy them and am sympathetic to what lies before them. But that does not mean that they warrant a free pass. Ratbag denialists have no right to hold the rest of society to ransom yet that is what they do by breaching public health orders to protest denial of their individual rights (‘freedoms’). This is their justification to not wear a mask, to refuse vaccination, and so on. Protest is fine but to make others vulnerable by refusing to comply is nothing short of reckless.

I wear a mask not only for myself but also for the protection of others. This is about a shared pact for the common good I accept as my obligation as a citizen to self and to others. I could not live with myself if I caught Covid and then moved about in breach of travel restrictions to infect family and friends or people unknown to me who happen to serve me. How some have the gumption to do as they please I do not know, which says something perhaps about deteriorating social mores. I wonder if we have unknowingly slipped from being civic-minded members of a community into self-absorbed individuals with over-inflated sense of entitlement.

There is no question that lock down is hugely restrictive and takes a massive toll on everybody. I know this from personal experience not being able to farewell my parents who passed in New Zealand in 2020. Ditto for a much-loved aunt and cousin in 2021. My granddaughter was born into lockdown and I could not support her mother. Nothing for me to do except deal.

It is all very well for protestors and another motley lot, the libertarians, to shirk the harshness of lockdown but what is the alternative? There is none. Mental health is undoubtedly an issue. It is hard not being able to visit family and friends. My granddaughter loves to go to the park but she cannot because outdoor play areas are closed, for good reason, since children represent the new cohort catching the Delta variant. My granddaughter does not understand that of course – all she knows is that she cannot go to the park. As hard as lockdowns are, it is easy to forget they are not a permanent arrangement and that to a significant extent the general population has a huge say on the duration of lockdown. The more we act out of our own interests the longer we can expect lockdown to continue.

=Perhaps I am old school from a time when we were expected to just get on with it, ‘suck it up’. I do not understand adults expressing anger at not being able to do what they want to do – as if this is a fundamental denial of their human rights. Here is another thing. Human rights are in vogue and overstated to the extent that restrictions imposed by public health orders intended to safeguard their health are seen to impinge on their human rights. Human rights have been trivialised. They have nothing to do with being able to shop, get a haircut, socialise, go to the movies, and travel. In its truest sense, they are about fundamental rights such as shelter, safety, food, to be free of harm and discrimination not discretionary rights of not being able to dine out. To expose atrocities and not risk one’s life in the process is the measure of human rights not some trumped up rubbish about being denied the right to do as one pleases.

I think it fair to say that the notion of society, of a collective of people sharing similar values, has been hollowed out. The notion of society is being cast aside for the primacy of the individual. Being the closet Marxist that I am, I put this down to the butchering of work in terms of the meaning of work. Once this was about taking pride in doing a good job, in having a vocation with prospects for security in retirement. Now, people are reduced to “workers” doing insecure work. Even those who are trained can expect no more than a contract that forces them to constantly apply for work. There is no such thing as a steady job except for a lucky few. When people are denied the right to make a decent living, especially given that the wealthiest just get wealthier, at their expense, they turn to false gods, one being social media.

Conspiracy theory pumped out through social media plays right into discontent and discordance. Having watched one documentary with the exaggerated voice-over and sound effects, pounding the arch enemy of government, my distinct impression of its intent was to intoxicate, to plant the seeds for uprising. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the origins of discontent I just cannot understand the expression of this through violence, which is counter intuitive. The very things protestors abhor such as lockdown are more likely to be extended as a result of the increased chances of cross infection due to unmasked mass gatherings. Then, again, the suspicious part of me wonders if calling Covid a “hoax” is simply an excuse for breaching public health orders as well as for rejecting vaccinations as irrelevant in consequence.

I accept there is genuine hesitancy toward vaccination but this cannot be about personal preference (choice) but instead necessity. We need the vaccine to survive, simple as that. It is troubles me that the waves of death to afflict many countries is not enough for some. Perhaps, Australia is experiencing a first world issue. We can afford to be complacent compared.

Still, I can appreciate hesitancy. I had to push myself to get the AZ vaccine. My family has a history of clots and with this being a risk factor caused much anxiety. After my first, every little niggle was a potential sign. Eventually, I got over myself and had the second shot with no problems (touch wood). It is a huge risk to take in choosing not to vaccinate so what potentially is behind this?

Why are some people prepared to put their lives in jeopardy? Do they not realise that this is what they are actually doing? Is it because it is not actually at their door, literally staring them in the face, they can convince themselves it is not as bad as they are being told by conservative media outlets such as Sky News? Will Sky News take responsibility for the consequences of ‘reporting’ blatant rubbish under the guide of free speech? By the way, the notion of ‘mis information’ is misleading in itself because it implies unintentional wrongful reporting whereas Sky knows exactly what it is reporting. Otherwise, it must be just plain stupid.

Covid is not a game though it has been played like one by those in the media spotlight who must consider themselves immune to consequences. Without hesitation, they tell politicians what they need to do. Not that they need to do anything. They just have the answers. Politics before people is how it looks even whilst pretending to speak for the people. Serial pest, Sydney radio shock-jock Alan Jones comes to mind. Denial does not make Covid go away as former US President Donald Trump promised to his faithful flock. This is the challenge for realists in terms of reaching out to denialists so that they can distinguish for themselves between fantasy and reality.

In short supply, is plain speech, without spin. It matters for people that politicians be upfront about mistakes and what will be done differently to ensure that there is no repeat. That way, we can be informed. It would be great if they could forget about elections and find the courage to do what is necessary, regardless of how unpopular this may be. I would love to see the discarding of the ‘bottom line’. People before profit. The legions of casual workers cannot afford to be off work to isolate or to work across the sector in multiple sites. Just because there is no Covid at a given point in time does not mean that it won’t show up, which by then, it will be too late. It is not ethical to let this occur. Instead, pay carers properly so that they don’t have to take risks. Simple.

To not let politics gets in the way. The New South Wales (NSW) liberal government led by premier Gladys Berejiklian was smug in its disdain of Labour held states, in particular Victoria which suffered the biggest outbreak in Australia in 2020 due to some monumental stuff-ups, for failing to manage their respective economies without having to go into lockdown. Its contact tracing system was a shambles compared to the much lauded “gold standard” of NSW.

Victoria has since lifted its game and now NSW is under the pump with spiralling case numbers. Of real concern is that recent outbreaks in Victoria have comes from leaks in NSW. As a writer to The Age pointed out, NSW’s contact tracing stops at its border. None more so than the disembarking of thousands of passengers from the Ruby Princess cruise ship, that docked at Circular Quay in Sydney, in March 2020. The virus, on board, travelled with passengers across the country and overseas making it somebody else’s problem. In refusing to lock down early, hard and fast in 2021, Berejiklian’s chooks have come home to roost. Instead of taking responsibility Berejiklian is trying to divert attention from her mismanagement to focussing on meeting targets for vaccination. To create an alternative reality.

Now that the Delta strain of Covid-19 is running amok in parts of Sydney and New South Wales, the excuse for failure to contain the spread is that the only way out of ‘lockdown’ is vaccination because the Delta strain is a different beast to the origin strain of 2020 and does not respond to the old means. This is spin. Other states, notably Western Australia, have successfully oppressed Delta outbreaks by locking down early and across the board.

Berejiklian could have learnt from Victoria, as Victoria did of NSW in beefing up its contact tracing processes but that would mean having to acknowledge that its lowly southern neighbour could teach NSW a thing or two. This is politics getting in the way again.

Victoria got a deserved poke in the eye in coming to understand vulnerability to the virus. The poor, casual working population, usually of non-English speaking background, living in multigenerational households could not and cannot afford not to work, to take time off to isolate so they eschew testing. The Victorian government targeted densely populated tower blocks comprising largely migrant populations without consulting with community leaders first. It has since learned its lesson. NSW had adopted a similar strategy coming down hard on their migrant communities in Western Sydney whereas residents in wealthier Northern suburbs enjoy greater liberties.

Berejiklian has stated on more than one occasion that NSW has imposed some of the toughest restrictions. If she is referring to the fact that ‘essential workers’ traveling from ‘Red’ zones to other parts of the city must get a Covid test every three days then, yes, she is right on that score but that score only. Until not so longer ago, shops remained open and it was not mandatory to wear masks. There is no ring of steel to stop people travelling out of Sydney hence it has leaked into other neighbouring sides including Victoria.

There is something of an inquiry going on presently as to what advice was given to the NSW premier and her health minister Brad Hazzard in the early stages of its latest outbreak in June. Predictably, deflection was deployed on this occasion to attack a journalist for taking up precious time to ask ridiculous questions when the minister could be out doing his job to protect NSW.

Covid has nothing to do with politics but it has become just that. A political football where avoidance of responsibility is the main objective. Thus, depressingly, little is done beforehand to stop Covid in its tracks. The policy response seems to be to manage its after effects. China did this by letting Covid out in the first place and denying the truth of this. The World Health Organisation (WHO) did this by insisting that Covid was not a pandemic. The Australian federal government did this by failing to establish fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities so that there are no leaks especially since it is established that Covid is air born. And state governments have done this in not locking down early to break the chains of transmission. We all pay the price for this.

To state the obvious: No one likes to wear a mask. No one likes to be separated from family. No one likes restrictions. No one likes lockdown. But we do it for the good of ourselves and our community. Thus, it can be said that those who protest their right NOT to wear a mask and comply with health orders want the right to catch Covid, to get sick, and to pass it on to others.

It is denialists who hold the country to ransom, not the experts and professionals who deem lockdown essential. This means having to put up with people who do not wear a mask and who endanger lives besides themselves. To be fair, they are not responsible for Covid leaking from quarantine and they are not responsible for the decimation of workplace relations in which just about everyone, except for a privileged few, is a contractor or a casual. Too many people live from hand to mouth and have no means to isolate or quarantine. That is down to systemic political failure. Covid is opportunistic. It looks for a weak spot, a human host who is willing to break restrictions and a government willing to give it to them.

Smoke and Mirrors of Conspiracy

Dorothy and her companions discovered that the all-powerful Wizard of OZ was really the ‘little guy’ using a bag of tricks to create an illusion. The ubiquitous notion of ‘risk’ is full of holes. It can be purposeful when the objective is to identify foreseeable dangers and act accordingly. Alas, risk is about what governments think that they can get away with. To what extent they can take a risk and then manage any fallout. This comes at the expense of doing what needs to be done to protect citizens from harm.

Cue the patronising messaging. “Do the right thing” is pointless for people who choose to ignore. As the ‘togetherness’ captured in “we are all in this together” makes no sense to people of ethnic communities who know for example that they are targeted, fairly or unfairly, for additional restrictions.

Show some backbone. If adults refuse to vaccinate, without medical exemption, they must accept the consequences including denial of entry to public places. They cannot have it both ways. This is not a denial of ‘freedom’ because they choose the consequences. Perhaps they could be ‘ordered’, in the interests of enlightening them, to do voluntary work in an aged care facility.

It is on political leaders to develop narratives to debunk denialism so as to articulate the harm to themselves and to others. Show how misinformation is created. The techniques to distort. Invite antivaxxers to explain their reasoning on a public forum. Ask them why they reject the science and health communities.

Require social media platforms to place ‘warning of unverified information or misinformation’ on propaganda videos or posts. This is not a denial of freedom or of free speech. Denialists have numerous outlets at their disposal to express their beliefs.

Address the misconception that Covid is just like the flu. It is far more contagious and dangerous. It affects the organs not just the lungs and it as dangerous for children as much as it is for older folk. It is not mandatory to vaccinate the population against the flu to protect people from dying though clearly it is recommended for vulnerable and elderly folk. We do not have to ‘live’ with the flu. We do not live with meningitis, measles, whopping cough, polio. We vaccinate children to protect them. If we did not then diseases once largely of the past would re-emerge.

The vaccine is not a cure. It affords much-needed protection only. The people who will be most vulnerable aside from elderly folk will be the un-vaccinated. This is already proving to be the case in the US where conservative anti-vaccination states are recording increases in deaths.

Messaging that has resonated is “act like everyone has Covid”. As has been pointed out, the best vaccine there is, in the absence of a vaccine, is to wear a mask and socially distance. Those who implore we must live with Covid come from a world of make believe. They live in an emerald city of wealth and privilege that shields them from ravages of Covid. They don’t mean “we” they mean others. They can afford to be expansive because they have little to lose. As such, they eschew a new world order premised on dignity and decency for all.

Time will tell if New Zealand can eliminate its most recent outbreak the source of which was New South Wales – no statement of regret forthcoming likely though. Not surprisingly, the travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia has been closed. This is a big setback for me because I was hoping to be to return to my country of birth (I am an Australian citizen) in October for an important family reunion. With one case detected NZ went into Alert Level Four. This means no takeaway food or coffee.

It seems the height of arrogance for Berejiklian to chastise her state counterparts for adopting an elimination strategy and to hold herself up as the courageous one in declaring Delta cannot be defeated. She is not only attempting to influence national policy but in doing so cover up her failure including leaks to other parts of the country and overseas.

Governments deserve scrutiny and, yes, they manipulate the truth to cover their arses. They do get up to mischief and they will not hesitate to play with the devil if there is a chance to extract leverage. But do this through reasoned debate not simplistic sloganeering and definitely not by listening to the little guy tucked away somewhere playing with a keyboard of tech savvy tricks.

‘Truthers’ need only follow the yellow brick road of bells and whistles. The makers of conspiracy fiction are, much like the Wizard of OZ, sight unseen. They won’t declare themselves because three is too much power in being anonymous and because followers would be disappointed by their ordinariness.  Truth is being relinquished for the allure of fantasy. Have our brains atrophied – wasted away – no longer match fit to disseminate misinformation from fact? Do we prefer to outsource our thinking to someone else? A postmodern version of the pied piper perhaps.

Sovereign citizens ought to be careful about what they ask for or, more to the point, be careful of what they are not aware of what they are asking for. In refusing to observe public health orders, and get vaccinated, they seek the right to catch Covid and the right to give it to their family, friends, and colleagues. And then they want others, namely government, to be responsible for fixing up the mess they’ve gotten themselves into.

It is all very well to protest the prohibitions arising from public health edicts. They do impact adversely on livelihood and on lives. It is incredibly hard not to be able afford the usual costs of such as paying the mortgage or rent and it is incredibly hard not to be able to socialise or be with family or friends. Lockdown does take a toll on mental health of just about everyone. We all pay a heavy price. So, what do protestors expect? If they were able to live as they please, what would the costs be for everyone else? Do they even care?

So, here’s a reality check: to die of Covid is not a quiet slipping away for old folk who’ve had their lives. It’s young people who have not lived their lives. It is a horrid painful death. Also, one does not get to die surrounded by loved ones. It will be doctors and nurses who will stay with the afflicted to the end. Even if one survives, there is no telling of the long-term effects of Covid. It is impossible to go back once opening up is done.

It is not courageous to protest restrictions at a time when social distancing is crucial to controlling Covid. Courage ought to be reserved for the medical professionals who put their lives on the line to save the anti-vaxxer imbeciles who will catch Covid.

It would be impossible to go back once we have opened up. Whether uttered from the mouths of lazy politicians or ignorant sovereign citizens, living with Covid (LWC) is the equivalent of failure.

  • LWC means having to deal with failures of quarantine.
  • LWC means that we expect that death will be others not us.
  • LWC means putting profit before people.
  • LWC means not having to reinstate security, dignity and pride in work.
  • LWC means policy failure. This cannot be the standard for ‘managing’ variants to come.
  • LWC means have to live with policy failure. Other Australian states have shown the way as have other nations.
  • LWC means having to put up with inept politicians, who peddle rubbish, and who think they have a right to do exactly that.
  • LWC means having to tolerate the non-believers and the associated risks they carry in refusing to vaccinate.
  • LWC Covid, in effect, means that denialists insist on the right to infect others.
  • LWC means the responsible will be responsible for the irresponsible.
  • LWC means that we expect health care professionals will have to put their lives on the line to care for the frail and the un-vaccinated.
  • LWC means always being on the alert for possible transmission.
  • LWC means having to plan everything.
  • LWC means having to record every transaction.
  • LWC means ongoing restrictions in just about every facet of life.
  • LWC means worrying about who we sit next to on a plane, bus, or tram.
  • LWC means dealing with long Covid and its unknowns.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road…Gold Standard or Realism?

No need to say “do the right thing”, just “do right”. Time for an alternative narrative that we can be confident in. Change the thinking, change the approach. Treat leaks as preventable by ending hotel quarantine and the associated risk of spreading Covid through air conditioning systems. As is well established, Covid is air born. According to Hartcher, state leaders are losing patience with the federal government with some striking out on their own to build cabin facilities.

Vaccinations are part of the solution. They are not the solution. They afford protection that likely will require regular booster shots. Quarantine has to be done properly, purpose-built cabins, no air conditioning, with the strictest standards for procedures and protocols at all transit, entry and exit points. If not, then one can only conclude that the Australian federal government is satisfied with hotel quarantine and or with a contractor stuffing up with a leak. Infectious diseases hospitals must be built to separate the infectious from non-infectious so that patients, already sick, do not catch Covid in hospital and die.

Importantly, explain simply and precisely to the general public that ‘opening up’ will require vaccination status, negative testing, wearing masks, social distancing, QR entry, limitations on gatherings, and so on. More of the same really but with Covid for company.

Covid has exposed the apathy of governments. They are so fixated on passing the buck they don’t know how to govern or have forgotten how to govern. Thankfully, not all though. Some have dared to take a stand and “do right” in the face of stiff opposition and trenchant hostility. I noted on my morning work today that the “Temporary Closure” signs attached to the outdoor gymnasium and children’s play equipment have been vandalised – ripped off. To not appreciate the reasoning for restrictions expressed through flouting of the rules means to not comprehend the dangers of Covid. Opening up is a false dawn.