Gladys’s Colossal Gamble

FIFTY WAYS TO BEAT THE VIRUS

Don’t hop on the bus, Gus
Stay away from the pack, Jack
Sneeze into your sleeve, Steve
And stay covid-free

Stop touching your face, Grace
Stay two metres away, Ray
Keep washing your hands, Stan
Just listen to me

Don’t visit your Gran, Jan
Wash down all your toys, Roy
Don’t hoard all the loo roll
Shop sensibly

Use hand sanitiser, Iza
Keep wipes in the truck, Chuck
Cover your face, Ace
Keep your bugs off of me

Stop with your moans, Jones
Fireworks are mad, Glad
Parties are rot, Scott
Lock down the state

Just follow the rules, fools
Stay home if you’re sick, Dick
Take the damn test, Jess
Keep us all virus free!

Doug (with apologies to Paul Simon)

Ben, a former frontline heathcare worker, writes:

NSW have a bunch of “unknown source” COVID cases, and still have zero idea how the US strain spread from their identified “Patient 0” (who arrived in Syd back on 1st December).

So they definitely DON’T have all their cases identified and isolated. Assuming an R0 on this virus of 3.5 – not sure what the R0 on the new “super infectious” strain spreading around South Africa, the UK and parts of Europe’s, but pray we don’t need to find out the hard way, with a patient carrying that strain meeting with a quarantine breach mishap in any State.

UPDATE

The exponent on the strain of COVID we’re used to seeing is between 3.0 and 3.5 (one infected will average passing the virus on to an additional 3-3.5 people if there are no controls in place to stop the spread). It’s exponential. It can’t be said to double each week – that would mean linear growth, not exponential… It might double week 1, be 16 times that number the end of the following week etc.. 

The variable that fluctuates and isn’t always known until after the data comes in is the Reff (effective rate of infection growth) – Reff is the realistic growth figure when controls in place to prevent its spread are taken into account (they reflect the real growth as observed, or if you’re much more skilled in epidemiology, you may be able to mathematically model in advance)

So we know that for any case in NSW that hasn’t been detected, it can be expected to infect 3-3.5 new hosts within 7 (to 14) days – those 3-3.5 newly infected people (unless detected and isolated) then all go on to infect another 3-3.5 people each within 7-14 days).

With no lockdowns, no mask mandates, and public events like bloody Cricket and Fireworks, it’s reasonable to expect that the figures are primed to literally EXPLODE upwards – and until NSW puts in place controls to make transmission difficult (like keeping people home, forcing the wearing of masks, and rooting out where the hell these “unknown source” cases tie to or have infected), the numbers that NSW Health DON’T yet know are the ones they’re petrified of (and the reason that even local councils are trying to stop crowds gathering in their parks to watch pointless fireworks)…

NSW needs to cancel all mass gathering events (Yep – cricket can be watched on the TV, and TV can re-run footage of last year’s fireworks – nobody will die from not being able to party like idiots this NYE – but many may well die if the knife edge that this State’s community infection spread is teetering on is allowed to proceed along the trajectory set by the lame brain and gutless NSW Government – any of these parks, cricket matches, shopping centres, etc can become super-spreaders, and whilst NSW Health is doing a good job flagging “close contact” locations – they still totally rely on people to do the right thing for the public good in response to those warnings (a faith in human nature not based in reality in my experience in healthcare).
https://www.wired.com/story/how-fast-does-a-virus-spread/

So what do sensible Governments do?  STOP ALL MOVEMENT! Lockdown until they have fully identified and isolated the threat of infections out there.

Jesus – even Melbourne, with its 60+ days of zero community transmission ( run now broken, sadly, probably by returnees from NSW), has cancelled its NYE fireworks displays and issued similar public health statements as NSW: stay out of the CBD and away from mass gatherings. Unless you have an existing booking with a CovidSAFE operating venue, you have no excuse for being anywhere near the CBD.

Melbourne also has mask mandates on public transport (and in any situation where social distancing becomes a challenge), and we must carry our masks with us whenever we leave the house regardless. We had ZERO cases and held that for 60 days – until now.

Victoria knows what happens if you allow the community to be complacent, or you’re too concerned with political or economic short term goals over the public health priorities needed to handle a pandemic as best as possible.

It’s infuriating watching the piss weak response of the NSW State Government. They’re even undermining their own local councils, who are trying desperately to stop people amassing at local parks and potentially creating super-spreaders! Never mind their stupid “permit system” for the CBD! 

They CANNOT Police the wishy washy, contradictory, and toothless public health orders that Gladys and her team of spineless “what would ScoMo do?” sycophants have dreamt up.

CANCEL YOUR BLOODY FIREWORKS!! 

Screw the money: the “moderate your movement” advice is useless as long as you’re still providing enticements for people to gather together to watch the damn fireworks!!

Expect NSW to experience a miniature version of what the USA did post Thanksgiving Day, turning poorly linked clusters and increasing “unknown source” cases into NSW’s official second wave. Watch the numbers over the first 21 days of January 2021. 

And then – knowing the difference in leadership resolve between say Victoria or SA vs NSW’s Premiers to make tough decisions when things hit the fan – know that when the shit goes sideways in coming weeks, the Government response will be slow, inadequately weak, and unsuccessful, egged on to prioritise “business as usual” over human lives by a gormless PM, Murdoch Media, and idiots like Alan Jones. 

Oh – and don’t just worry about outside VISITORS to aged care homes – worry about the staff as well, working casual shifts across multiple facilities to try to make ends meet, in the majority of “for profit” facilities that we know just SUCK, and were the source of the majority of deaths in Victoria’s second wave.

We already know that the majority of Federally run “for profit” centres woefully underpay and under-employ their over-casualised workforce. We know they cut corners. In Victoria, competent hospital nurses sent  into some of the worst Federally controlled aged care facilities are still dealing with the mental trauma of what they saw in there!

Get one infection hit a staff member – expect that to spread to multiple facilities fast (staff and residents) – then watch the vulnerable residents clock the death tally.

Avoidable deaths – but the changes should have been made BEFORE a community outbreak (and before a massive social event is run in the CBD of your State with woefully insufficient controls to avoid crowds turning into super-spreaders)! Don’t recall much from the Federal nor NSW governments about the additional protections they instigated to protect the vulnerable – does anyone else?

A lot of the sad lessons learned in Victoria were NOT within the control of the Victorian Government (the vast majority of deaths were in Federally regulated and funded aged care homes which we learnt were run like shit [for profit of course]) – yet it seems neither the Federal Government nor Liberal run states like NSW have learnt the damn lessons and proactively worked to prevent the same calamities happening should a second wave hit their own States or Territories. 

So if Gladys has been too spineless to issue a state-wide Stay at Home (Lockdown) order by now to prevent gatherings at NY (including house parties – come on now!) and until cases are confidently ALL known, ALL isolated and controlled (with zero new community spread or “unknown source” cases popping up)  – I fear that NSW, you’re very likely out of luck – brace yourself for a second wave (and with Gladys at the helm – brace yourself for a long one with high mortality count)… *sighs*

Ben (Frustrated former frontline healthcare worker)

“View of Sydney skyline during bushfires (October 17, 2013)” by Andrea Schaffer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

UPDATED 31/12/2020

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)