On a Saturday, morning a few weeks ago, I heard the first reports that 4 people tested positive to Covid-19 in Wilcannia. Another 6 in nearby Broken Hill, 197 miles away. That’s nearby in Australian standards. People travel those distances regularly to play football and visit family.
Wilcannia is 946 kilometres (547 miles) from Sydney with a population of 745 mainly Indigenous residents. It sits on the Baaka River, better known to European settlers as The Darling. Since my youth, the river has been notable for its long dry spells. Few would imagine its days as part of a paddle steamer route, joining with the Murray River.
The story told here is best left to the people of Wilcannia and Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), including Karla Grant and her team. We will make a few observations after you’ve made your own.
Every morning Sydney hosts its 11am Covid-19 ritual. New South Wales Premier Gladys solemnly records the newly infected, newly hospitalised, ICU entrants and the dead. Our chief health officer, Kerry Chant, performs a short liturgy: “Test…Isolate”. These announcements are then reannounced in various formulations over the next half hour interspersed with urgent calls for us to vaccinate. The media then asks the same questions it did yesterday using today’s numbers. This allows for further reannouncements and even more urgent calls for us to be vaccinated. We are also reminded that this is the only way out of lockdown. Other Australian states go through a similar daily process.
As an unvaccinated person, the liturgy is of particular interest to me. In my uninfected state my main concern is to avoid Delta. If it is as dangerous as we’re told, it will come looking for me. It will then be time to action the “Test……Isolate” strategy. Let’s say I find myself in an exposure zone or one comes here, I’ll need a PCR test. If the PCR test works and I remain uninfected then I get on with my useless life.
Yet, if the test works and I become both an infected and infector, it will be time to implement part 2 of Kerry’s “Test……Isolate” plan. Go straight to my meticulously designed isolation chamber with the ensuite and stay there awaiting further instructions. This is easy if you’re living by yourself especially if you’re a doomsday prepper. The rest of us will be relying on family or housemates to keep us fed and in contact with the rest of the world.
So you’re in the isolation chamber having completed your “Test….Isolate” civic duty. Covid-19, from hereon known as Spike, is happy because no-one has interfered with his plan to raise a family and move to your lungs. This is where Kerry’s plan seems to be short an action or two. It was this concern that prompted me to go looking for the rest of Covid-19 survival manual.