I said it last week, but this whole situation is surreal.
There’s a slight bit of relief for those of us in Victoria – the growth here is a little more linear, with between 50 and 60 cases confirmed for most of each of the last five days.
But I think we all know this is about to spiral out of control. The number of cases of local transmission in Victoria rose from 9 yesterday to 16 today.
It all started off early this year with news reports from Wuhan in China, but quickly spread outwards from there.
The first real effects we saw were in early March when (possibly inspired by Hong Kong) toilet paper vanished from the shops. People were panic-buying it, and as soon as it starts, it’s hard to stop.
At one stage, rice, pasta, tissues, soap, cleaning products, fresh meat, frozen vegetables, some dairy and tinned food were all in short supply.
Thanks to measures such as purchase limits and early closing to allow restocking, they’ve all started to come back in.
In the past few days, I’ve found almost everything back in stock – though I haven’t spotted pasta. Even toilet paper is in stock (if you go in the morning).
Working from home
Last weekend we had hoped to get away to NSW for a few days. But I’m glad I held back booking flights. By the start of last week it increasingly appeared to be a bad idea.
Until last week I was still working in the City, but it was getting quieter every day. It reminded me of early January when most people are away.
As of this week, many workers (including myself) who can work from home are now doing so.
The public transport network is still running to full capacity (with major project works also underway) but hardly anybody is using it – this is just as well, since “social distancing” is vital to slow down the spread.
So I’m at home all day. It’s a bit of adjustment. I’m finding I have to break it up with short walks, particularly at the start and end of the work day.
Most pedestrians around the place seem very aware of the guidance to keep 1.5 metres or more away from others.
Restrictions: Stage 1, stage 2…
It seems NSW and Victoria really wanted a near-lockdown last weekend. Some announcements by those states caused a lot of confusion that day, and in retrospect it seems to have been an ambit claim to force the Federal government into action.
Despite it being dialled-back, unprecedented restrictions were put in place. From Monday at midday, cafes and restaurants were forced to stop indoor dining, and gyms, pubs and numerous other types of businesses closed.
From Tuesday, Victorian schools were closed for early school holidays, though a few remain open for the children of essential workers, and in other states, schools are still open.
From midnight Wednesday there were more restrictions in place, including on weddings (now limited to a celebrant, the couple, and the legally-required two witnesses) and funerals (10 people only) and tightening of business restrictions.
I found the announcement of that one a bit problematic. After reading the list, Prime Minister Scott Morrison went wildly off-script, saying at one point that only essential workers should go out (okay, makes sense), but then nonsensically saying:
Now if you ask me who is an essential worker? Someone who has a job. Everyone who has a job in this economy is an essential worker. Every single job that is being done in our economy with these severe restrictions that are taking place is essential.Source
Really, I think that undermines the messaging about avoiding unnecessary travel.
Have the restrictions gone far enough? Only 5.4% of confirmed cases so far are via local transmission with no known link to an existing case, but about another 12.9% are of unknown origin, so who knows.
And a concern is how far behind reality are the confirmed case numbers, given the delay in symptoms appearing and being diagnosed.
What happens next? I’m no medical expert, and I know how disruptive and impactful it’ll be, but I think there has to be tighter restrictions soon.
It’s easy for me to say that when I personally am not (and thankfully am unlikely to be) under financial stress, but to batten down the hatches seems like the obvious course of action to have any hope of getting this thing under control.
Good luck everyone. Stay safe.