Covid Mania Returns Australia to Its Roots as a Nation of Prisoners

   < < Go Back
from The Wall Street Journal,

It’s hard to know exactly when Australia’s pandemic response crossed the line from tragedy into farce. But future historians could do worse than pinpoint the moment when Sydney’s chief health supremo told the city’s residents to stop being friendly to one another when they ventured out to buy essentials, lest they get themselves and others killed.

“Whilst it is in human nature to engage in conversation with others, to be friendly, unfortunately this is not the time to do that . . . don’t start up a conversation,” scolded Kerry Chant, the endlessly tut-tutting chief health officer of New South Wales, at a news conference last week. “We want to make sure as we go about our daily lives that we do not come into contact with anyone who could pose a risk.”

Never mind that you can’t even go near a shop without a mask, she said. Masks aren’t foolproof and this is, in her words, “no time for complacency.” A simple g’day, in other words, could be deadly.

Given this level of official hysteria, an outsider might imagine that Australia is a Covid charnel house. In fact, all of Australia is recording around 150 coronavirus cases a day. The current outbreak of 2,000 or so cases total over the past month has been associated with eight deaths so far, almost all of them people over 70.

A good 18 months into the pandemic, the nation is still trapped in April 2020. Adelaide and Melbourne are hoping to come out of lockdown in some form this week; Sydney, the economic engine room of Australia, is likely to remain under restriction through at least August.

More From The Wall Street Journal: