Stop all this looking for someone else to blame

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THE PANDEMIC

Stop all this looking for someone else to blame
Chip Le Grand is right (“Treacherous Waters”, Insight, The Age, 29/5). We hesitated on testing and vaccination and got lockdown. As a paediatrician seeing children from across my region, I have noticed dangerous complacency. We procrastinate on vaccines, and complain loudly about rural areas sharing lockdown, but we have stopped worrying about cold symptoms.

Recently half the children I saw had sore throats or snuffles, yet their parents still brought them. Some are off school as directed but not tested, in case a positive test inconveniences other family members.

Stop looking for someone else to blame for this lockdown. Yes quarantine has leaked from time to time and we should have had better access to vaccines, but we can all try harder. We can protect ourselves and our communities by always isolating and testing when symptomatic, remembering to use QR codes, wearing masks over mouth and nose and getting vaccinated so that we reach herd immunity. Herd immunity relies on the masses doing it for the few who can’t.

Please let’s view the current lockdown as a wake up call. We are in this together and we all have responsibility to do better.
Jo McCubbin, Sale

Hotel quarantine ‘success rate’ is not a true picture
Scott Morrison’s marketing instincts are it again. He’s claiming that hotel quarantine has a 99.99 per cent success rate.

That figure is based on the total number of people who have been through the quarantine system. However most people entering hotel quarantine are testing negative and stay negative.

I prefer the statistic produced by someone who actually understands the significance of the statistics in the particular situation – Norman Swan on The Drum (ABC, 27/5). He pointed out that when you look at the failure rate in people who test positive to the virus we have a breakout rate of 1 in 170 – that is the rate we should be worried about.

We desperately need designated quarantine facilities. The cost of those would be less than the cost of production lost.
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn

It’s just not fit for purpose
There is much to do about the Victorian government’s QR reader and rightly so, but I am sorry to say that it is generally not fit for purpose. My Galaxy S5 can download and install any number of QR code readers, but for the Service Victoria app the response is “Your device isn’t compatible with this version”.
On inquiry to Service Victoria, the response was “the Service Victoria App is only available on Android operating system versions 6.0 and up” and advised “check your phone software settings to ensure you have the most up to date software installed”.
On the S5 such an upgrade from system 5 to system 6 series is not automatic and can only be undertaken manually at high risk of losing all photos, contacts, messages and multimedia files. This is not a practical fix of the issue.

What is surprising is that such a limited app would be heavily promoted and released, given the importance attached to the use of the official QR reader. Even apps from Office 2007 can run on Microsoft Windows 10 in 2021, surely it isn’t such a problem to open up the Service Victoria QR app to a wider user base.
Henry Askin, Hawthorn

He’s way out of his depth
Chris Lucas’ “childish” cheap shot to describe the current lockdown response is a sign of being way out of his depth (“Restaurateur slams ‘almost childish’ lockdown”, The Age online, 31/5).

He needs to be put in charge of quarantine, contact tracing and keeping Victorians safe from COVID-19. Maybe then he will understand how difficult it is to combat a highly infectious and deadly virus within a population where not everyone will co-operate with tracing and containment measures.

Maybe then he will have a new-found respect for what it really means to be an adult and accountable for six million people.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South

THE FORUM

Enforce these rules
I agree with your correspondent (“Let down at the coal face”, Letters, 31/5) that Victoria must enforce “No QR code – no entry” to venues.

I recently holidayed in Noosa and the Gold Coast and every venue strictly enforced this. Not only did the operator have a mobile phone check-in for the code at the front door, they had a security person just inside the door reviewing your check-in tick.

While many venues in Victoria follow a similar routine, clearly a large number of operators are very slack in this regard.

It is time for the Victorian government to lift its game and have inspectors carry out random checks to ensure a full set of data is readily available if required.
Rob Evans, Glen Iris

Ask yourself this
Being faced with a mutated virus, whose rate of transmission is much higher than previous ones, enabling it to outrun contact tracing, has again forced Victoria into lockdown. This has allowed contact tracing to catch up with primary and secondary contacts and their several hundred exposure sites. The public has responded by being tested in record numbers and in seeking vaccination.

Victoria has been unfortunate to have been hit by mutated and more dangerous variants of the virus that have spurred this lockdown and the previous one.

A lockdown’s length is set by the time from an infection to make a person symptomatic enough to seek testing. Unfortunately, an “unlinked” case has been detected on the third day of lockdown. If it remains unlinked, it restarts the clock. We must have clear air (literally as well as metaphorically) with no unlinked cases. But, where would we be had Victoria not locked down?
Peter Horan, Highton

Research the alternatives
We can probably all empathise with the farmers who are now losing their grain crops to plagues of mice. Some of it is our fault, of course, as we grow huge monocultures of crops and kill the predators of mice.

It would be foolish of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to approve the use of the rodenticide bromadiolone to kill these mice when it is acknowledged this will kill thousands of native animals who eat the poisoned mice by secondary poisoning.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research has already written papers on the use of mice and rat fertility control. These products, such as ContraPest and Contraceptol, are registered for use in the US. Why aren’t we pulling out all the stops to research and use immunocontraception in Australia rather than lethal poisons?
Ruth Weston, Leopold

Humiliation piled higher
Amanda Vanstone has pointed out the suffering and humiliation that can occur when people need to see a medical specialist (“Chutzpah needed when seeing medical specialists”, Comment, The Age, 31/5). That humiliation increases as one grows older and the chutzpah is harder to summon. It is piled higher on people with coloured skin.

I have great respect and appreciation for the GPs and their clinics that I have attended over the years. Not so for some specialists and their Rottweiler staff.

Apart from the sky-high fees, often far above the Medicare standard, I resent the supercilious and patronising approach that I have experienced on a number of occasions. This should not be the conduct of healers, and it casts a slur on the overwhelming number of medical practitioners. In a society in which God is money, it appears such behaviour is tolerated.

Perhaps one solution to balance this disadvantage faced by patients is to establish government-funded Specialists Super Clinics similar to GP Super Clinics. Ministers at the state and federal government level, please consider.
Bill Mathew, Parkville

It’s our money, by the way
I listened to state Treasurer Tim Pallas announce the Victorian government’s $250 million support package for business during the latest lockdown and his lambasting the federal government for their lack of support, saying they have paid “nothing”.

Where do you start? Perhaps remind him of the roughly $60 billion plus support for JobKeeper? Or that Victoria is unique in now having a fourth lockdown?

How often does Mr Pallas want the federal government to bail out Victoria’s shortcomings. And, Mr Pallas, it isn’t the “Andrews state government’s $250 million” being committed, it’s the “taxpayers of Victoria’s $250 million”.
David McLean, Killarney

Unfinished business
The Sir Doug Nicholls round is a meaningful and enjoyable celebration of the contribution our Indigenous population has made to the AFL game. So many stars, so many stories, so many examples to be proud of.

There is one glaring omission however, something missing and unfinished from the total package. Adam Goodes was treated disgracefully at the end of his career. He played the game with such skill, determination, grace and goodwill. He did not deserve to go out of the game in the way it transpired.
This is unfinished business, and for me, this round is lacking until he receives the recognition he deserves. A bit like Kevin Rudd’s apology, there has to be acknowledgement.

I challenge the AFL leadership to ensure that this happens in 2022, and I hope that Adam sees fit to allow us to acknowledge his champion status. Champion as a player and person.
Marshall Toohey, Fairfield

Another factor at play
As to why people are hesitant to get the COVID vaccine (“Treacherous Waters”, Insight, The Age, 29/5), maybe add the issue of casual work, where not only is there anxiety about no paid sick leave should one experience side-effects, but significantly that – if so affected – the likelihood another (fit and well) worker will be slotted in and then take precedence in the competition for available shifts.
Frances Beattie, Boronia

Hollow words
Everyone agrees the Morrison government needs to do more on quarantine, whether ensuring every quarantine hotel in every jurisdiction adheres to best practice, or, as Jane Halton, head of the Morrison government’s hotel quarantine inquiry, recommended last year, expanding the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory to its full capacity of 3000 (currently sitting at 850).

Scott Morrison is finally expanding Howard Springs, but as Peter Hartcher says, “too little too late” (“PM’s complacency is infectious”, Comment, The Age, 29/5). Astonishingly, Mr Morrison is doing the exact opposite to what Halton recommended by handing control of the facility to the NT government. The reason, according to some unnamed source involved in this decision: the Morrison government is not interested in Halton’s advice, believing the states need to step up and do the heavy lifting.

Mr Morrison says the country will get through the pandemic by working together – hollow words from a PM way out of his depth.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne

It’s not just bad luck
I’m the first to say we can’t pin the blame of this latest lockdown entirely on the state government. The federal government must acknowledge some responsibility.

But why is it only Victoria in the entire country that has endured four lockdowns? That’s not simply a case of bad luck, but obviously repeated incompetence at a state level.
Andrew Laird, Malvern

Lift your game, people
My daily walks within 5 kilometres of my home and in the two-hour time limit for exercise take me to a number of well-heeled and well-frequented shopping strips. On my walk yesterday I checked in at every store I entered. I watched for a few minutes and in each busy store I was the only customer to check in.

Come on, people. Businesses must keep an eye on this but also we as responsible community members must also do the right thing.
Jane Wilson, Caulfield North

Her mental health …
The brilliant Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka has been fined almost $20,000 for refusing to go to a press conference with journalists at Roland Garros. She has stated this is because of mental health issues and now she faces the possibility of being defaulted from the tournament if she continues to refuse to attend these press conferences.

There are two concerns that need to be addressed here. The first is that a person’s mental health is vital and must be protected. She has said that she finds the press conferences a concern so surely there is no need for the “mob” type press conference but perhaps a few questions could be submitted, and responses sent out on the tournament’s social media. Most of the questions and the responses are usually fairly mundane and predictable.

The second concern is that she could be banned from playing in this and future tournaments. Surely having one of the best players in the world playing and being seen by the world is more important than seeing a seemingly shy person being forced to do a press conference.

As Benjamin Franklin suggested: “Well done is better than well said.” Let her play and others talk.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

… is paramount
Mental health is just as important as physical health and it is wrong for any sporting body to impose a penalty on a tennis player who, to protect their mental health, declines to attend a media conference.

As a Naomi Osaka fan, I am happy she rates her mental health above answering journalists’ questions.

I just hope she improves on clay.
Murray McInnis, Coburg

Stop unsafe queuing
I fully supported the latest lockdown, yet when I see images of hundreds of people waiting in queues less than 1.5 metres apart for hours, not just 15 minutes, I think “what’s the point”.

If Jack/Jill are in the queue and COVID-positive they are passing it on to whoever is next to them. Sure, people are wearing ill-fitting non-n95 masks but this isn’t going to stop the spread. What, after a couple of hours, people get sick of waiting and go home to spread their potentially newly acquired virus to the rest of the family, who, if they are essential workers, go to work and pass it onto their colleagues.

How is this unsafe practice allowed to continue? The government needs to control those lines by making sure everybody makes an appointment online and goes only at that time.
Gail Crouch, Frankston South

AND ANOTHER THING

Aged care workers
One year after the debacle in aged care in homes in Victoria and aged care staff still have to work in multiple centres in order to make a living? Have we learnt nothing?
Malcolm Fraser, Oakleigh South

Credit:

The vaccination rollout
If it were a race the federal government would have been scratched with a broken leg.
Peta Colebatch, Hawthorn

Vaccination coach Scott Morrison has turned a race into a never-ending marathon.
Bruce Watson, Clifton Springs

Quarantine site
The Morrison government is opposing the state government’s preferred Mickleham site for a dedicated quarantine facility on the grounds that it may want to expand the pet quarantine facility there: Is this another case of the federal response to fighting COVID-19 going to the dogs?
Bill King, Camberwell

Politics
The only way to achieve unity in Labor is for all members except Anthony Albanese to resign.
Tim Blowfield, Melbourne

Life in lockdown
Maskeraders: Mask worn with nose/mouth exposed.
Neil Barden, Fitzroy North

I take your correspondent’s point on the perplexing “nonsense” of the public health laws (“What a difference a day makes to ‘safety’”, Letters, 29/5). I suggest they only wear their seatbelt on the days they know they’ll be having a car accident.
Penny Hawe, Lorne

Furthermore
I am not sure what I am more afraid of, contracting COVID-19 or the thought of Michael O’Brien being our next premier.
Ian Anderson, Ascot Vale

Finally
Confused by the inconsistent, illogical and irrational rules across Australia with border restrictions, lockdowns, vaccination rollout, mask wearing, contact tracing, hotel quarantine, QR code apps, repatriation of citizens from overseas? Welcome to the outdated world of federation.
Derek Shepherd, Woodend

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