Covid-19 Clusters in SWS – back to cave again?

16/7/2020, Dr Chee L Khoo

Covid-19 – back to the cave

Like me, you must be sick of the whole Covid-19 thingy by now. After 3 and a half months of lock down, I thought I was done with writing anything to do with Covid-19 until we have the vaccine. Life was beginning to return to normal the last few weeks. Meeting up with friends and family again. Having lunches and dinners again. We have all earned it as we all made personal sacrifices over the last 3.5 months. We all did our part for the good of the community. But someone in the Victorian government did not do their part and our own state government was not quick on the mark with their response and looks like we may be heading back to the cave!

There were always going to be some who did not do their part in social distancing. There were always to going to be some who are conspiracy theorists. There were always going to be some who thinks this all either a media beat up, a hoax or just a little flu. But those aren’t the real cause of the “second wave”.

We knew that there always be a possibility of outbreaks when we relaxed the lockdown. We assume that the government would be prepare for that. We knew that when we allow Australians to return from overseas, some of them will bring the virus home. Once again, we assume that the government would be prepared for that. We also assume that those things will all be monitored and there will be a disaster plan to deal with any break out arising from those. We assume that there must be someone in charge. Sadly, we all assumed wrongly. Zilch. None. No forward planning. No monitoring. No one seems to be in charge. All responses so far have been on the run! Why? Did we not learn in February when Covid-19 first hit that we need a disaster plan?

Why did it take 3 weeks for Victoria to stop overseas returnees after the hotel quarantine was found be wanting? Why did it take 3 weeks for NSW to close the border as the numbers in Victoria started to rise exponentially? Why did we warn people coming or returning from Victoria that the borders were “closing” in a couple of days’ time?

Do you know that NSW accepts ~1200 arrivals from overseas a day over the last month? If you do the maths, if we accept 1000 arrivals a day to Sydney, we need at least 14,000 hotel beds for quarantine. For 12000 arrivals, we need 15-20,000 beds across Sydney. I hazard a guess that we will need a few thousand police officers, soldiers and private contractors to secure these hotels. Is anyone monitoring the state’s ability to cope with all these returning Australians? Do we have a plan to pull a trigger if we have leak from the hotels like they did in Victoria?

I know I sound a bit clever in retrospect but that’s what governments are meant to be doing. Big stuff. Big forward planning. Ready to go disaster planning.

The next 2 weeks will be crucial to see whether we will degenerate into what Victoria is experiencing as those 9-10 venues explode into their own clusters or the individual venues can be contained and we escape the Victorian disaster. Let’s retreat into the cave in the meantime. Let’s make sure we keep our social engagements to a essential minimum. Let’s maintain the social distancing rules. Let’s keep up with our hand hygiene.