By DELMORE DELLMORE
On 29 November, the Covid-19 Omicron variant arrived in Australia – and state and federal levels of government were found to be unprepared.
First detected in South Africa on 4 November, all we knew was that it was estimated to be four times as virulent as the then dominant Delta strain and that it was only a matter of time before it would sweep the world.
Little else was known about about Omicron, but Australian federal and state governments pushed ahead with the mantra: ‘Time to open up the economy.’
By 29 November, NSW no longer had the daily ‘Mornings at 11 with Gladys, Kerry and Brad’ show as Berejiklian had resigned as premier and was succeeded by the fervent anti-lockdown proponent Dominic Perrottet.
Federally, we had the three amigos of Morrison, Dutton and Hunt running the Covid show with the army’s Lieutenant General John Frewen wheeled out as the expert in charge of the vaccine rollout.
The all singing, all dancing Scotty, Pete and Greg show was by now well versed in deflecting from any deficiencies in the national Covid strategy as they had almost two years to practise blaming everyone at the state level, from Victoria’s Dan Andrews to “idiots” at Bondi Beach.
By November, we were all used to Morrison and Hunt’s lies over the failure to order vaccines other than the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine, and even more lies about why there was a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers.
We were also conditioned by almost two years of directives to wear masks, to maintain 1.5 metres of social distancing, to avoid crowded settings and to go into a 14 day quarantine when entering other states.
We may have become ‘Fortress Australia’ but it seemed to be working in spite of problems with a shortage of vaccine in the first three months of the rollout and changing rules around entering various states.
The overwhelming of intensive care units across the nation was narrowly avoided, though across the board healthcare workers were pushed to the limits.
It was a fuckup, but it was ours and we bumbled our way through it.
Lockdowns in Victoria and NSW meant there was a great strain on the economy and people’s anxiety levels, but somehow we got through it – just.
Collectively, as a nation, we were on the path to resuming some kind of social and economic life when Omicron upset the balance and threw us a curveball like we had not experienced before, and our politicians were found to be naked in lack of preparedness and vision for going forward.
With no strategy in place other than to say ‘it is now in the hands of the people’ and ‘all must bow to the economy’, our politicians have been found lacking in empathy, leadership and science based policies.
Morrison had by now abdicated any responsibility by saying the way out of the pandemic was in the hands of the Australian people, with the message being fully embraced by Domicron.
By December, we were hearing that we should expect 25,000 Covid-19 cases a day. NSW quickly took the national lead by posting 5,715 cases on 23 December, quickly rocketing well past the aforementioned 25,000 mark to the point where today, we have posted 35,054 new cases. (And this when some cohorts are being actively discouraged from official PCR tests, and those who seek tests are having difficulties accessing them in a timely, efficient manner.)
Having sacrificed any duty care for the citizens of NSW to the dustbin of fiscal responsibility, NSW Health Minister Brad ‘Biohazard’ Hazzard proclaimed, “We’re all getting Omicron,” as hospitals become overwhelmed with Covid cases, fatigue and a near collapse in the ambulance system.
In the first week of the New Year, Randwick’s Prince of Wales Hospital has closed six wards due to Covid outbreaks, while according to leaked emails, St Vincent’s Hospital was in an “extremely vulnerable” position.
Special mention must go to Premier Domicron for urging the people of NSW to go forward into the countryside recovering from drought and bushfires to spread festive joy and scatter a few dollars.
“We’re going to open up. As we open up, that provides confidence to people despite the fact that in the short term there are challenges,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
What that really means is to take Omicron into regional NSW, which is ill-prepared for it, having suffered from generations of healthcare neglect by successive governments.
Meanwhile, the Covid numbers for NSW are a fudge, with some putting the real daily cases at double what is reported due to the collapse in the PCR testing facilities and the time lag in getting results.
Over the festive period, many testing facilities had to close due the the backlog of tests, which meant that even if you could get one, you may have had to wait 75 hours or more for the results.
Now we are told we shouldn’t even get tested unless we have Covid symptoms and to use a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) instead – but these are unavailable across NSW and Australia.
Where the bloody hell are they Scotty?
The lack of RAT tests comes down to the lack of foresight by Scotty from marketing, the hapless Greg Hunt and logistics expert Lieutenant General John Frewen.
Even before Omicron, RAT tests were the quickest and cheapest way of testing, with a PCR test costing around $85 in a private lab and about $51 per test in a public facility, while a RAT test would be around $5 each if bulk ordered.
But the federal government overlooked the need for RAT tests and last year, the two Australian test kit manufacturing facilities signed contracts to supply the USA after Canberra had shown little interest.
Queensland’s Ellume is now supplying 100,000 kits a day to the USA and is still waiting for our Therapeutic Goods Authority (TGA) to approve them for use in Australia, with the company not expecting to be supplying the local market until mid-2022.
By now we are all used to Morrison’s mendacity and his shape shifting his way out of failures but now we are also experiencing his meanness when he says about RAT tests: “When someone tells you they want to make something free, someone’s always got to pay for it.”
For this comment alone, he should be thrown out of office but for that we are going to have to wait until March or May.
That, at least is one good thing we can look forward to in 2022.
Domicron will have to wait until the 2023 state elections for the people of NSW to tell him and his clueless cohorts how they feel about being thrown under a bus.
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