Victoria, according to all the medical experts now running the show, exhibits the gold standard in hotel quarantine and contact tracing and that’s all there is to know. How comforting to reflect on the purported glimmer of our standards at this midway point in our third COVID-19 lockdown.
There is definitely something sick with the way that this information comes to us however – if we considered the Victorian people to be in some kind of relationship with the Premier of this state then all decent clinical advice would probably revolve around finding a good support network and leaving at the soonest possible moment. The Victorian population has always been subjected to a sort of soft gaslighting by Dan Andrews over the course of the pandemic but the last few days have seen a new development in the whole sorry saga: Dan Andrews being willing to stand up and blatantly lie to the media.
There are three specific lies that illustrate the exercise in reality control being undertaken. The first of these is refusing to use the term ‘lockdown’ when releasing the newest set of lockdown rules. The process to get to this point is pretty simple: the word lockdown has extreme negative connotations, so Dan Andrews and his media team (which, not coincidentally, is the largest in the history of the state) presumably sit down to plan not ever saying the tainted words again. So we find ourselves living in lockdown, but not using the correct word. It would be as if your oncologist decided to start calling your terminal brain cancer by the term ‘cranial cellular anomaly’.
The second is committing to a 5-day lockdown – ahem, ‘circuit breaker’ while having quietly requested a 2-week window in the emergency orders. We are now witnessing the Premier give updates that reflect his confidence in ending the lockdown on time – but why would there have ever been a doubt about ending it on time, if the contact tracing team was operating at such breathtaking levels of effectiveness?
The third is appending the word ‘hyper’ to any statement referring to the dreaded ‘UK variant’ as if to remove all doubt that this particular mutation is the deadliest possible form the virus can take. Expert epidemiologists disagree with this take, but evidently they are not the right type of experts.
If you remove what the Premier actually says from the objective body of evidence that we have in front of us when trying to decipher what the reality of our situation is we are left with the following: contact tracing is slow and nowhere near comprehensive enough to deal with even a moderate outbreak, our hotel quarantine program doesn’t adequately implement even basic infection controls and our Chief Health Officer is so wary of the potential for a single transmission event to spread around the whole state our only option is to lockdown again.
This is a tangled mess, but the pattern is clearer than ever. The gulf between what Dan Andrews says and what is actually happening grows ever wider and we find, somewhat disturbingly, that many Victorians seem perfectly happy to go along with it anyway.
CM Hendy is a Melbourne writer. Buy him a beer Ko-Fi.
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