By Jim McIntosh
Freedom Day has come and gone and the numbers of new COVID-19 infections are rising at a rate that has even NSW government officials concerned, as the newer variant of the virus sweeps through the community. At the time of writing, daily cases are in the two and a half thousands, whereas just a week or so back they were in the low hundreds. A worrying trend by any measure. But, still refusing to reintroduce restrictions, the state government is apparently gambling on the hope that the Omicron variant will be mild enough to keep the health system from being overwhelmed.
That may be a forlorn hope.
Heading into Christmas, several countries in Europe have experienced a rise in hospitalisations and increasing stress for overworked frontline medical staff. The number of new infections, doubling every few days, might be milder; whether or not it actually is a milder strain still remains to be seen. The sheer volume of people who are falling ill is clearly outweighing the optimistic view that the wave of illness can be set aside without the need for restrictions, lockdowns and travel bans. When the inevitable is actually happening right inside your own country, you must act to counter it, even if it might be already too late. It’s either that or face serious political consequences further down the track.
Which brings me back to NSW. Quite recently the health minister Brad Hazzard stated that according to modelling, the state may well have up to 25 thousand new daily cases. Standing behind him as he was saying this was premier Dominick Perrottet. Was that a scowl of disapproval on Dom’s face, as the health minister’s words were spoken? It sure looked like one. Or was the scowl associated with something we’re never to find out – perhaps he had accidentally stepped in something unpleasant. Who knows? But even if the health modelling is out, and numbers don’t quite reach the tens of thousands each day, is the NSW health system prepared to cope with the inevitable increase in illnesses? I’m not saying here that every sick person will wind up in ICU, but hospitalisations are hospitalisations whichever way we’d like to spin it. People who are ill still need beds and still need health care workers to nurse them.
It’s always been apparent and obvious, to me at least, that opening up too soon without retaining other precautions such as masks and distancing was a recipe for an eventual return to more stringent restrictions, sooner or later. Perrottet may think that his hope-filled, glass-half-full approach to the virus and his almost crusading zeal to bring about a free and happy conclusion to two years of COVID-19 misery is the way to go. I have reservations about that, and I’m possibly in reasonably good company.
To me, rather than bringing about a new freedom to the NSW people, it seems more likely that the state government has simply given up and feels it can no longer cope with this health emergency.
— Michael Taylor (@AusIndiMedia) December 19, 2021
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