We opened up – to more cases and deathsJanuary 13, 2022
Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
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We opened up – to more cases and deaths
I feel as if I am living in a “choose your own reality” world. Business advocates screamed for the economy to be reopened, even though Delta was rampant, new variants were inevitable and not everyone was fully vaccinated. Governments told people who feared they had the virus or been exposed to it to get tested when the capacity to do so with a rapidly-spreading Omicron was limited.
Mass-participation events like the cricket, tennis, new year fireworks, Christmas functions and music festivals went ahead. “Let it rip”, some politicians said, while GPs, hospital emergency departments and ICUs filled and stretched workers there far past capacity. There may be a reality post-pandemic, but we are not there yet. And failing to recognise that – and worse, what the consequences are for vulnerable people we say we care for – means increasing illness, trauma and unnecessary deaths.
David Baxter, Mornington
Life will be harder until our children are vaccinated
We can change the rules for adults and close contacts as much as we want but the reality is that if your kids get sick and they are not old enough to be at home on their own, one of you has to stay with them, leaving your work short-staffed.
I am triple-vaxxed and a casual relief teacher. Last year, despite my employer being desperate for staff, I had to turn them down as I had to take my child to be tested. The roll out of kids’ vaccinations should have started months ago. Instead, it looks like being a very disrupted school year. Again. Roll on federal election day.
Donna Lancaster, Inverloch
People are fearful. It’s time to bring in the army.
I agree with Professor Peter New’s suggestion that the army should help set up mobile hospital wards for COVID-19 patients (Letters, 13/1). However, why should it stop there? The army could drive ambulances and trucks. It could pick up and deliver the fruit and veggies being thrown out by farmers, and milk being thrown down the drain. Then supermarket shelves could be refilled.
The army could also help deliver vaccines to vaccination centres and (if members are qualified to do so) administer them. It could also help out in aged care homes and deliver air purifiers to schools. This would give some confidence to the population who are are becoming increasingly angry and frightened.
Hilary Vaughan, Williamstown
Focus on stocking shop shelves with essentials
An important aspect of transport logistics is about getting essential supplies to where they are needed most. Perhaps the big supermarkets should liaise with suppliers to ensure that available, non-COVID affected truck drivers and warehouse workers concentrate on getting basic foodstuffs onto the shelves, and skip the soft drinks, confectionary, chocolates, potato chips and snacks etc for a few weeks. And at the risk of greater public outcry than over the Novak Djokovic saga, maybe skip alcohol deliveries too.
Ross Bardin, Williamstown
Mistake after mistake by our governments
State and federal governments have made a litany of disastrous decisions throughout this pandemic. Some made early in the piece were understandable given that the world really did not know what it was up against. However, since late 2020 it is hard for the ordinary person to understand how certain decisions were arrived at given that Australia could see what was happening in Europe and the US.
One would have hoped government advisers warned their masters of the consequences of “letting it rip”. Blind Freddy could see that with limited restrictions, a greater number of people would contract COVID-19. (We know how quickly Omicron spreads). It does not take much effort to link this with the worker shortages across most areas.
The decision to move away from PCR to rapid antigen testing without providing adequate supplies of testing kits is the latest mistake by our so-called leaders.
Giuseppe Corda, Aspendale
Jf you think this is bad…
It was only a few months ago when Victoria was in lockdown, trying to force the daily COVID-19 case numbers back towards zero. Few of us could have imagined they would soon explode into the tens of thousands. But the medical experts, led by the Doherty Institute, did. Their predictions have been prescient and their recommendations essential.
The ramifications of our political leaders, from the Prime Minister down, not fully acting upon their advice with urgency has led to our current disastrous situation.
Climate scientists have similarly been warning us of the dangers, and the actions needed to keep the planet liveable. If world leaders, including our own, continue to fudge their responses, in decades to come the impact that COVID-19 is having on our lives will be remembered fondly as a walk in the park.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick
Start delivering, Minister
Victoria’s Education Minister, James Merlino, is adamant that all students will commence the school year on time and to this end he will, if need be, load the promised air purifiers on trucks and deliver them himself. It would be prudent to act on this now rather than later.
Frances Damon, Tooradin
More details, please
The reporting of the coronavirus death figures needs to be adjusted to something more meaningful to the community. Instead of telling us that 25 people have died, perhaps they could be more accurate and dissect specifically how many died of Delta, how many died of Omicron, the ages of the people and if they had overriding circumstances that contributed to their death. As it stands at the moment, the reporting system creates fear in the community.
Nathan Feld, Glen Iris
As always, too slow
Too slow to respond to early warnings from the World Health Organisation about a new virus two years ago, too slow to secure vaccine deals, too slow to deliver them, too slow to ensure enough rapid antigen tests were available before applying the “let it rip” strategy and too slow to secure vaccines for kids before the school term begins. Scott Morrison does it again with too little, too late.
Bernadette Carroll, Ivanhoe
Struggling for clarity
I sat listening to the Prime Minister yet again trying to explain the definition of a “close contact” and found myself fondly reminiscing about John Hewson trying to explain the GST. Ahh, those were the days.
Barry Miller, Kyneton
Dreaming of billions
If one can only imagine what COVID assistance could have been financed with the billions of dollars that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg failed to recoup from profitable companies which did not qualify for their JobKeeper payments. Free rapid antigen tests are just one example.
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn
Such an obvious danger
Thank you, Professor Jim Stanford (Opinion, 13/1). It seems incredible that the federal government’s response to the high COVID-19 infection rates that are now affecting retail, hospitality and business in general is to “overhaul” (in other words, relax) isolation rules. Perhaps they do not understand how infection works? It seems evident that further “opening up”, far from rebooting the economy, will increase the impact of the virus.
Miriam Faine, Hawthorn
Tone down the sirens
Forget COVID-19. The biggest aggravation in my life right now is the relatively recent phenomena of ear-piercing, incessant and irritating train sirens. Whose idea was it to install in the cabins what appear to be 50-foot trumpets with which to progressively deafen us, or in my case be driven to utter despair? The older train horns, still heard occasionally, are more than adequate. Surely I am not alone.
Greg Gamble, Mentone
More than just ‘blemishes’
John Howard (Opinion, 13/1) welcomes a better understanding of our nation’s achievements to be injected into schools’ history curricula, and claims “how far ahead of other nations Australia was in extending democracy”, citing secret ballots and the full franchise for women.
But why doesn’t he mention the unconscionable, undemocratic delay in including Indigenous Australians in the census and giving them the vote? Surely these are more than “blemishes in our history”, [and] part of an honest recognition of our treatment of Australia’s original inhabitants.
Howard rejected making an apology to the Stolen Generations as it related to events “so long ago” and he is still reluctant to be honest about our history.
Megan Stoyles, Aireys Inlet
Why the empty seats?
The first day of the Australian Open is usually a great time to see quality matches in the outer courts although it is also normally crowded. It has been announced that seating will be at 50per cent capacity and yet it is reported that there will still be seats available. Is this shortfall a COVID-19 matter or a reaction to the Djokovic circus?
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill
It’s three strikes, Novak
Failed to isolate after positive test: strike one. False declaration on a Border Force document: strike two. Did not fill out the form himself: strike three. In baseball, you are out. Anyone for tennis?
John Heggie, Hastings
Getting rid of Djokovic
How about we just give Novak Djokovic the trophy now (the special plastic one) and send him home with his precious title? Then we can watch some truly great tennis and all of the vaccinated people can get on with protecting ourselves and each other against the virus as best we can, as the government does not seem to be able to help us much. To say nothing of the poor refugees who are still stuck in the hotel for who knows how much longer.
Karen Morris, Newport
End the cruelty, minister
Alex Hawke, who meets in a bible group with Stuart Robert and Scott Morrison each sitting week, claims to be “a big believer in the ideas of grace, forgiveness, redemption and a second chance – Christian values that have seasoned secular culture in a way that makes it more humane and our world more habitable” (The Age, 13/1). With the stroke of his pen, he can demonstrate his commitment to such values and release asylum seekers who are inhumanely incarcerated for fleeing torture and persecution.
Rosalie McColl, East Geelong
Where money should go
A show with 350 drones across Victoria Harbour this weekend (The Age, 13/1)? The money would be better spent on supporting our city’s businesses that are struggling to survive with the Omicron-created crisis.
Katriona Fahey, Alphington
Here we go again, the republic (The Age, 13/1). Could someone, anyone, explain to the homeless young woman and her faithful dog outside the supermarket how their republic will make one scrap of difference to her plight? And if you are looking for presidential candidates with a track record of service to the nation, I suggest you start with the list of fire fighting volunteers in the SES who put their lives on the line for us.
Ronald Elliott, Sandringham
Why the need for tanks?
Our last use of tanks in combat was during the Vietnam War 47 years ago. We are now purchasing 120 tanks from the United States for $3.5billion. Why? The only answer would be to update our remaining tanks. Perhaps the correct answer would be that tanks are now obsolete and we do not need them any more.
Peter Johns, Sorrento
The need for a boycott
Congratulations to Osman Faruqi for his excellent article, “Why is boycott so divisive?” (Opinion, 13/1). Attempting to punitively link boycotts with government funding is an attack on our democratic right of protest and a betrayal of the Labor Party’s origins and ethos.
Accepting funding from the Israeli government is a way of normalising the brutality with which Palestinians are treated, above all in Gaza. It is time that Australia and the world removed their blinkers and stopped hiding behind the assertion that to criticise the Israeli government is anti-Semitism. I abhor anti-Semitism as an odious form of racism but I stand by the right, indeed the need, to bring the Israeli government to account for human rights abuses.
Lorel Thomas, Blackburn South
The arts, an easy prey
Sydney Festival chair David Kirk said this week, “some artists were feeling unsafe and compromised”.
To those bullies who are causing such angst I ask rhetorically, do you equally boycott other Israeli innovations such as technology, medicine, science, agriculture, electronics to name but a few? Do you boycott everything Chinese to protest the “re-education” and vanishing of China’s Muslim Uyghur population? Or the assimilation of Tibet?
Do you protest the Russian invasion of Crimea? Or Morocco over Western Sahara? And if not, then there is a different name for what you are doing. Israel will continue to thrive and boycotters will continue to selectively target easy prey, such as the arts.
Rosie Elsass, Brighton
The perfect all rounder
Pat Cummins is Australia’s best cricketing role model in a very long time. Not only is he the world’s best fast bowler, he is also a gentleman on and off the field. Instead of a snarl or verballing the opposing batter no matter how close the call, he greets them with his trademark smile. A handsome man to boot. Congratulations, Gentleman Pat, on winning the Ashes.
Roger Christiansz, Wheelers Hill
As Mum always said …
An economist who thinks he is sage enough to give pandemic advice – “Don’t leave pandemic to medicos” (Opinion, 12/1). I will stick with my mother’s advice: “You can’t have it both ways”.
Denis Liubinas, Blairgowrie
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: M att Golding
For a guy who makes few mistakes when playing tennis, he seems to make plenty when not playing.
Michael Hendrickson, Kew East
Send him home to his mother.
Ann Crawford, Hawthorn East
I, for one, am grateful to Novak. The news in early January (when we have more time to laze over the paper) is normally so dull.
Leah Bloch, Elwood
If Djokovic were world No. 101, how would this ongoing debacle play out?
Judith Caine, Donvale
I’m guessing Australia won’t be inundated with Serbian tourists in the near future.
Charles Laycock, Castlemaine
For heaven’s sake, give Djokovic the flick and let’s get on with the tennis.
Brian Morley, Donvale
Will “What more could this man have done?” achieve meme status?
Susan Caughey, Glen Iris
Novax Joker, magician on two courts, ace server of spin, has Hawke Eye bamboozled.
John O’Hara, Mount Waverley
Fair’s fair. Djokovic’s defence of “human error” also applies to Immigration’s procedural breakdown. Implications?
Ian Gribble, Point Lonsdale
There is one certainty in the Djokovic case. The lawyers involved have made a lot of money.
Rob Willis, Wheelers Hill
Let’s hope the 151 million vaccines purchased include the Omicron-specific shot (13/1).
Dr Anthony Palmer, Southbank
Just a few months ago, weren’t businesses crying about how lockdowns were destroying them?
Olivia Manor, Coburg
Boris Johnson caught hosting a garden party during lockdown? What an Eton mess.
Jason Apostolou, St Kilda
Scott says his government is doing a great job with COVID-19. Has he asked ordinary people whether they agree?
Rita Reid, Port Melbourne
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