COMMENT: By Nasya Bahfen
MELBOURNE (Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): Australia’s Victorian state government told returned travellers to quarantine for two weeks. Some broke the rules.
It then paid for them to stay in hotels with security guards. Some of the guards couldn’t keep their dicks in their pants. Some of the returned travellers broke the rules.
It then eased some restrictions, and asked people to maintain social distancing and not hold large gatherings. Some broke the rules.
While these rules were being broken a competent, terrifying enemy we thought we’d held back re-emerged.
Energised, it started to spread through a city whose people vastly underestimated its power.
The state government then gave suburbs slated for lockdowns a day’s notice.
Of course, some broke the rules. Residents moved to friends’ or relatives’ homes or used their loved ones’ homes to change their addresses on the Vicroads website.
The enemy snaked its way into inner suburbs
The enemy was reinforced – it snaked its way to Ascot Vale, Maribyrnong, Travancore … it encroached onto the inner city suburbs of North Melbourne and Flemington where 3000 underprivileged people live in high rise towers in close quarters, many with underlying health conditions.
(The inadequacy of some of the public housing in Australia is an issue which, to our shame, should have been dealt with before the powder keg of covid-19 blew up our lives.)
These tower blocks are vertical “cruise ships” – their inhabitants are sitting ducks. Some of the towers are designated for elderly residents. If not stopped, the enemy will soon discover that this is like shooting fish in a barrel – easy, easy kills.
Premier Daniel Andrews can’t afford to take any more chances. If a day, or eight hours, or five hours, or one hour is given, some will break the rules. (Andrews yesterday ordered a six week lockdown of metro Melbourne and Mitchell shire).
Rush to the shops while unknowingly helping the enemy spread. Rush to change their address online. Rush to move elsewhere, helping the enemy spread its vicious wings.
During a pandemic, the rights of the individual take a back seat for the greater good. If they don’t, you get situations where the enemy rages uncontrolled, infecting at will, and handing out painful deaths, and leaving survivors with after effects whose extent we still don’t fully know about.
High density public housing
In New York city, high density public housing bore the brunt of the enemy’s attacks.
In Singapore the second wave started in the packed homes of migrant workers, which also had to be locked down. Returned travellers are video-called more than once a day and visited more than once a day by immigration cops; step outside the apartment and it’s a prison sentence. (This is why Singapore can have nice things.)
When I look at this tower filled with elderly people metres from where I live, I think “there, but for the grace of Allah, go I” and I feel utter terror for them.
If the enemy is not contained, they’ll be pulling bodies out of here.
And across the state people will be baying for blood, asking why the government didn’t do something.
Dr Nasya Bahfen is a journalist and media academic living in Melbourne, Victoria. This is her personal view expressed on social media. The commentary has been republished by the Pacific Media Centre with permission.