Disaster? What disaster?
It was good to see the prime minister kicking again on the cricket on Friday. Sends the precise message.
Life goes on. The Poms are being hammered. How good?!
One other message was being despatched by the nursing unit supervisor at Brisbane’s QEII Jubilee hospital. With 100 employees rendered unavailable by the outbreak, the supervisor’s recommendation to these remaining was to “Prioritise duties…cry…no matter you want.”
In Queensland, some 2,000 healthcare employees are unable to work.
“This is sort of a disaster we’ve by no means seen earlier than,” mentioned Beth Mohle of the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union. A view echoed by the Australian Medical Affiliation’s Dr Maria Boulton: “We’re in a disaster in the intervening time; your complete well being care system is mobilising.”
And that’s simply Queensland. And that’s simply now.
New South Wales is working at greater than 40,000 new instances a day. These are official numbers, unlikely to seize the true extent of the unfold – and even then they far surpass what appeared like alarmist warnings lower than a month in the past from the well being minister, Brad Hazzard. Then, he spoke of 25,000 every day instances by the top of the January.
When the prime minister emerged from Wednesday’s nationwide cupboard declaring faculties would “return and keep again (from) day certainly one of time period one”, it took simply two days for that plan to crumble.
By Friday, Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk was acknowledging low ranges of immunisation amongst five- to 11-year-olds.
“We won’t be sending major college college students again in the course of the first week of college if we’re heading in the direction of a peak,” she mentioned, foreshadowing additional discussions at nationwide cupboard degree.
If instructor numbers are winnowed like nurses and truckies, it’s not clear how faculties can keep open, not to mention ship regular courses.
Final October, Scott Morrison’s lamentations over the departure of premier Gladys Berejiklian had been eased by the considered her successor. Dominic Perrottet’s instincts had been at all times strongly in the direction of the “let it rip” college on Covid, views that aligned with the PM.
“A powerful society wants a powerful financial system,” mentioned Perrottet in his first speech as premier. He cited “opening up the financial system” as a precedence.
In mid-December, with Omicron already spreading and chief well being officer Kerry Chant glowering behind him, Perrottet introduced the dropping of masks and QR-code mandates exterior “high-risk settings.”
In hindsight, it appears nuts. Even on the time, epidemiology professor Adrian Esterman declared: “It merely is unnecessary.”
After which a bizarre factor occurred. After the preliminary, anticipated rush again to bars and eating places, Sydney folks went into swift retreat.
“Diners are spooked,” reported an ANZ Analysis paper this week. Nationally, shopper spending “is now at its worst since (the) Delta lockdowns”.
And the capital of the “let’s reside with Covid” strategy has been worst hit of all.
“Sydney spending for the week to five Jan was at its weakest since Covid started”, says the ANZ paper. “Warning about Omicron transmission and disruptions of companies resulting from employees shortages are central to the decline.”
Employees who’re sick or in compelled isolation have disrupted provide chains in order that grocery store cabinets, particularly for meat, fruit and greens, are more and more naked. None of it’s a shock to economist Prof Jim Stanford.
“The concept that letting it rip – , taking a deep breath and puffing up our chest and simply going through Covid head-on – would in some way be good for the financial system, was at all times nonsense,” he mentioned in a broadly shared tweet. “You may’t run a wholesome financial system with out wholesome individuals.”
Confronted with modelling displaying NSW may discover itself with barely a hospital mattress to spare, in ICU or typically wards, by the top of January, no less than a partial coverage backflip was inevitable.
Perrottet says new bans will likely be enforced on singing and dancing in pubs and golf equipment. Individuals have been requested to “minimise mingling”.
Non-urgent elective surgical procedure will even be “paused”, to the frustration of many specialists.
“This isn’t simply beauty surgical procedure or minimal surgical procedures,” says Prof Jeff Dunn of the Prostate Most cancers Basis. “These are doubtlessly life-saving or diagnostic surgical procedures.”
The modelling suggests the Omicron wave will start to fall by mid-February. By the anticipated federal election in Could, may the disaster be the place Scott Morrison most needs to see it – in his beloved “rear-view mirror”?
Troy Bilsborough from the strategic consultancy Provocate is just not so positive. A former well being media adviser within the Abbott and Turnbull governments, Bilsborough says Covid is not a “theoretical” menace.
On official figures some 800,000 Australians have caught it. “Realistically, it’s most likely double that; it’s most likely as much as 2 million,” says Bilsborough.
By the point individuals vote, he says, “you’re taking a look at one other few million individuals”. Lengthy Covid will likely be a lived expertise for some. Individuals will query if the federal government did sufficient to guard them. He predicts troublesome new points in industrial relations as staff search readability over break day for continual signs.
His “intestine feeling” is that the federal government may need been higher positioned “if they’d stored a lid on the instances”.
Too late now.
However on the upside, we’re thrashing these Poms on the cricket.