Shut up, Tasmania!
July 30, 2021 4:35 PM   Subscribe

"Many of you are wondering, how did we get from Zero Covid and being the envy of the world to being an experiment in what happens when the Delta variant rips through an unvaccinated population?" The Australien Government has a helpful Honest Government Ad breaking down exactly how the massive outbreak in Sydney that is working hard to become a national franchise came about. If you'd like an on-the-ground explanation straight from the states' mouths, Meanwhile in Australia parts 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 will catch you up on the past eventful month.
posted by rednikki (29 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Note: many of the bizarre incidents noted in Meanwhile in Australia actually happened, including:
the nudists frightened by deer
the visit to the zoo
the Prime Minister's claim about Macca's (McDonalds)
posted by rednikki at 5:13 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


It seems kind of reasonable. If you've kept the virus out, then it might look like you don't need to vaccinate. However, it's plausible that you can't actually do a perfect job of keeping the virus out, and then all hell breaks loose.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:09 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


There are a few pieces of writing which just seem so prophetic that they become timeless, almost self-fulfilling and eternal, and one of those is the source for the nickname Australians often give ourselves, "The Lucky Country":
Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people's ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise.

-- The Lucky Country, Donald Horne, 1964
(ref: wikipedia)
posted by nickzoic at 6:18 PM on July 30 [19 favorites]


If you've kept the virus out, then it might look like you don't need to vaccinate.

There are a few wise quotes I hold dear to my heart in this world, that inform my thinking about problems of every shape and size, and two of them are “offence wins games, defence wins championships” and “amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics”.
posted by mhoye at 7:04 PM on July 30 [33 favorites]


If you've kept the virus out, then it might look like you don't need to vaccinate.

Nothing reasonable about it. The government purchased and manufactured millions of doses of Astra Zeneca. Now (today, when it's quite clear that they're not keeping anything out) that bunch of bright sparks is warning people not to get the available Astra Zeneca shots because they might cause a hypothetical massive 600 people across the country to develop treatable blood clots, if every single person got two doses and the highest estimated incident rates are accurate.
posted by bashing rocks together at 7:10 PM on July 30 [16 favorites]


What are New South Wales removalists?
posted by eviemath at 7:21 PM on July 30


(Also, the link for part 21 points to the video for part 22.)
posted by eviemath at 7:21 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


A crew of removalists helping a family move house from Sydney to Melbourne were the source of Melbourne’s recent delta outbreak/lockdown. Much consternation has ensued.
posted by threecheesetrees at 7:35 PM on July 30


For those not in the know, a fun added layer is the ‘meanwhile in Australia’ guy used to be beloved Australian children’s TV presenter (and stuck-at-home parent heartthrob) Jimmy Giggle.
posted by threecheesetrees at 7:42 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


A crew of removalists helping a family move house

Ah - movers!

(The additional context is helpful too, thanks.)
posted by eviemath at 8:39 PM on July 30


I don't want to make a big deal about this but it's a good analogy. Two weeks ago I had a massive heart attack, but I was lucky. I had early warning signs, and I got to the hospital about 20 minutes before my heart attack. This is rare, most people do this in the reverse order, they have a heart attack then go to the hospital. They ignore the warning signs or it's a complete surprise. Most people die waiting for the ambulance. My precaution meant that I had an extremely soft landing. The safest place to have a heart attack is in a hospital, right? I had two stents installed within two hours and I was on my feet again in three days.

From my hospital bed I had a view of the city where I live. I could see the Hotel Grand Chancellor, about 300m from my home. That's where in January an outbreak from hotel quarantine led to a three day lock down. I recall thinking, why, the fuck, did they fill a hotel with quarantined people in the center of the fucking city?

I could also see the Amora hotel. I didn't know this at the time, but this was another quarantine hotel where an outbreak was occurring in the center of the fucking city.

We have some lovely islands in Moreton Bay. Look at North Stradbroke. It's a tropical paradise, and only ten minutes by helicopter from the hospital that saved my life. The people of Venice figured this out 700 years ago. They made every newcomer stay on an island for 40 days before they were allowed in.

So back to precautions. We found out that quarantining people in the center of the fucking city was really dumb. So we did it again. Great fucking job. Why aren't we using the islands? Those resorts are empty of tourists, they need the income, and they're distant. Two weeks on a tropical island resort sounds like a holiday doesn't it? It sounds exactly like a fucking holiday.

I'd be dead if I treated my personal health emergency the same way the government has treated this public health emergency.
posted by adept256 at 9:06 PM on July 30 [30 favorites]


I mean you can also build actual quarantine facilities in the time they've had - hotel quarantine was a stop-gap solution that they just left in because it seemed to work, and then were surprised when it inevitably collapsed.
posted by Merus at 9:45 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


I love the ad and I wish we had an equivalent one tailor-made for every individual country. I always enjoy listening to Australians being sweary too - it's something they do so well.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:52 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Jimmy Rees is about as timely as any other news source and has been a real gem. The vaccination rollout, particularly the messaging around vaccinations and not purchasing as many vaccines as possible, has been disastrous. Vaccines are so, so cheap compared to lockdowns. There is still rank denial about airborne spread and insufficient PPE, and I'm feeling glum at the prospect of ongoing rolling lockdowns. I handed out my first batch of uncensored-swear-word custom rock candy at vaccinations, which overall went down very well, and have had to order more.
posted by quercus23 at 3:03 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


I'm really despairing at how political my social media is. Immediately as the restrictions for post Victorian lockdown were announced (no home visits for 2 more weeks, capacity limits, masks) quite a few people posted about how you can go to a brothel but you can't see your mum. Ugh. Same comment from several unconnected people so I suspect a campaign of some sort. (Remember those silly campaigns where you'd get a message saying to post something cryptic to "raise awareness") (in the press conference they said go see your mum at a park!!)

And NSW (aka favourite child of the "Prime Minister for Sydney" (actual burn- quote Dan Andrews premier for Victoria) is just going downhill slowly. People hiding their covid infections and bringing people to hospital too late.
posted by freethefeet at 3:48 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Were there people saying vaccination was essential for NZ and Australia before the outbreak?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:12 AM on July 31


For the reader's local familiarity I may cite the parallels between Jared Kushner's political strategy of burdening the states with the responsibilities, blaming them for the failures, and claiming victory for the success. Scott Morrison is also a colossal dickhead with no talent who wouldn't be where he is without Rupert Murdoch. There are many similarities. The difference is that my hospital visit, the ER, the heart surgery, the bedrest, all of it - the bill is nothing. You see a lot of Australians here correctly criticizing the failures of our public health response. The outrage is real and valid, but it comes from a place where we expect the best. We are very privileged, all we have to do is look overseas to see what could have been.
posted by adept256 at 5:02 AM on July 31 [6 favorites]


Here in NZ we closed our travel bubble with Oz for at least 2 months when things started to look bad, got my daughter back from Melbourne for an extended skiing vacation just before that - she can work remotely so all is good.

From here it looks like generally the more lefty state Aussie governments are doing more serious lockdowns which are being effective, while the more rightwing ones (cough NSW cough) are sort of pretending at lockdown but with people in the streets, department stores and hardware stores open etc etc and mass protesting in the streets about how terrible their faux-lockdown is. Having been through real strict lockdown where no one went out for 6 weeks it all seems so precious (I'm sure it does to people in Vic too)

I kind of feel that Oz is screwed until someone can beat some sense into NSW and the Federal govt, they just don't seem to be prepared to put the hard work into beating this thing - going out and partying is apparently more important.

Here we're getting vaccines into arms as fast as they arrive, we did early funding for a bunch of different vaccines and effectively pre-ordered more than we will need (those extras are starting to go to Pacific nations).
posted by mbo at 5:30 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


We found out that quarantining people in the center of the fucking city was really dumb. So we did it again.

Covid started as a virus and mutated into an IQ test.
posted by DreamerFi at 9:15 AM on July 31 [14 favorites]


South Australia and Tasmania are both Liberal states and they've done a bang up job keeping COVID squelched. (For those playing along at home, in Australia the Liberal party are right wing and Labour are center-left.) At this point it's just NSW making a deadly hash of it. And as Jimmy Rees points out, NSW is unwilling to take literally any advice that Vic has. We can expect their numbers to get much bigger I expect.
posted by rednikki at 9:56 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Covid started as a virus and mutated into an IQ test.

Ain't that the truth.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:07 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Watching developments back home from the vantage point of Plague Island has been a weird mixture of reassurance and fearfulness. In the early weeks of the pandemic my wife and I were worried that our families in Oz would catch Covid while we were stuck over here and unable to travel back; when it became clearer that the risk of that was much smaller than in Britain, the worry was just that we wouldn't get to see them for a long, long time. It's two years since I last saw my parents and brother, and will be at least another. But at least they've been safe.

Until Delta. The strong uptake of vaccines in the UK has meant that even as Delta infections have spiked in recent weeks as strongly as Alpha did in January, deaths have stayed low. But we look at Oz and see sitting ducks: a largely unvaccinated population facing a far more contagious strain capable of outrunning attempts to contain it. We were chatting the other day with the father of our kid's friend, who mentioned that two months ago he lost eight members of his extended family to Delta back home. He's from India. Australia isn't the first largely unvaccinated population exposed to this variant.

The complacency I've seen on Australian social media about the vaccines has been perplexing, and not just because when I got my first dose I felt like an astronaut at lift-off thanks to those miraculous millilitres of the future inside me. Even leaving aside the antivaxxers, people giving concerns about blood clots as their justification for delay seem to think that the choice is between that tiny individual risk and being completely fine. No: the choice is between that tiny individual risk and a much greater risk, if it gets established in Australia's vulnerable population, of a disease that can debilitate or kill you. If Australia starts seeing anything like the death rates the UK had in January, its 923 Covid deaths since March 2020 will be joined by hundreds more every day.

The world has been handed suits of armour months or even years before we had been expecting them, and too many Aussies are quibbling about the fit. The battle may have been raging beyond the castle walls so far, but Delta is a siege ladder, and arrows are starting to land at your feet.
posted by rory at 5:48 PM on July 31 [6 favorites]


Now (today, when it's quite clear that they're not keeping anything out) that bunch of bright sparks is warning people not to get the available Astra Zeneca shots because they might cause a hypothetical massive 600 people across the country to develop treatable blood clots ...

No, it is not “the same bunch of bright sparks” who deliberately chose (against public service advice) not to invest in a diversified portfolio of vaccines.

This warning comes from independent medical experts who model that a universal rollout of AstraZeneca would guarantee hundreds of hospitalisations and maybe something like a dozen deaths. By the standards used to recommend medicines as safe, this is deemed an unacceptable risk. Perhaps the risk is now smaller in a relative sense than it was, but this is not because AstraZeneca is “safe”, it’s because a deadly outbreak has since occurred on account of the Berejiklian government’s ideological aversion to lockdowns.
posted by moorooka at 10:46 PM on July 31 [6 favorites]


the ‘meanwhile in Australia’ guy used to be beloved Australian children’s TV presenter (and stuck-at-home parent heartthrob) Jimmy Giggle

not to be confused with the completely fictional and totally unrelated Teddy McGiggle.
posted by flabdablet at 11:50 PM on August 1


Immediately as the restrictions for post Victorian lockdown were announced (no home visits for 2 more weeks, capacity limits, masks) quite a few people posted about how you can go to a brothel but you can't see your mum. Ugh. Same comment from several unconnected people so I suspect a campaign of some sort.

Pretty clear to me that this particular campaign is being run out of the offices of Sky News. As in the US, it's the Murdoch press that has most consistently pushed the Lockdowns Are Bad -> Locking Down Early Is A Panicked Overreaction party line.

I'm not sure what Rupert expects to get out of deliberately fuelling a global pandemic, but it seems he's run the numbers and is confident of getting something. Unless he's doing it for shits and giggles just to secure his place in history as the first genuine global supervillain.
posted by flabdablet at 12:02 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


a far more contagious strain capable of outrunning attempts to contain it

if policymakers are as completely determined to sit on their hands and give it a good head start as the NSW and Commonwealth Governments have been, sure.

Their willingness to do exactly that, it seems to me, is because they're completely incapable of any kind of analysis not based squarely in political partisanship. On that view, the Victorian Government fuckups that lead to Australia's first runaway outbreak happened because Chairman Dan is a Stalinist incompetent, not because containing a threat with an exponential growth pattern is by its very nature always going to require less time the earlier you start.

The Victorian experience should have been enough to convince even these partisan hacks that piecemeal, stepwise responses to a threat that expands exponentially from every containment breach just can't work. But because these people are genuinely incapable of understanding any mathematics more sophisticated than tallying votes, and because they have been poisoned by overexposure to Murdoch death cult propaganda, the only way they were ever going to learn the lessons from Victoria was to fuck up in exactly the same way themselves.

The Victorian Government, having had to learn those lessons the hard way, locked the whole State down very hard and very quickly once the current NSW outbreak leaked over the border, and is already doing much better than NSW as a result.
posted by flabdablet at 12:26 AM on August 2




This warning comes from independent medical experts who model that a universal rollout of AstraZeneca would guarantee hundreds of hospitalisations and maybe something like a dozen deaths. By the standards used to recommend medicines as safe, this is deemed an unacceptable risk. Perhaps the risk is now smaller in a relative sense than it was, but this is not because AstraZeneca is “safe”, it’s because a deadly outbreak has since occurred on account of the Berejiklian government’s ideological aversion to lockdowns.

Standards of safety in medicine are always relative to the risks of the condition being treated. Obviously any take on this issue is backseat driving for something very serious and very complicated, but considering “a dozen deaths and hundreds of hospitalizations” an unacceptable risk sure feels like it is underestimating the likelihood and consequences of a serious failure of containment even with a favorable climate for a targeted lockdown strategy.
posted by atoxyl at 5:34 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


This warning comes from independent medical experts who model that a universal rollout of AstraZeneca would guarantee hundreds of hospitalisations and maybe something like a dozen deaths. By the standards used to recommend medicines as safe, this is deemed an unacceptable risk. Perhaps the risk is now smaller in a relative sense than it was,

I think I said *exactly* that, but without the inexplicable waffling about whether the risks of covid in Australia are currently higher than they were in the past. And if you had received your information from medical experts instead of Bright Sparks(TM), you would know that they *never* said it was an unacceptable risk - instead that where possible, younger people should get Pfizer instead of AZ, but everyone should be able to get AZ, and all adults should get vaccinated.
posted by bashing rocks together at 6:23 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


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