The COVID-19 virus is now endemic in the world's population. Mutations more infectious than the original strain are bound to pop up anywhere in the world and be imported, but evolution tells us that the new strains will not necessarily be more deadly in the longer term. After all, what is the point of killing the host?
As a wealthy nation, Australia will vaccinate for COVID-19 mutations annually or biannually. This will reduce the infection rate, but importing new virus mutations will still be a problem.
Therefore, quarantining must become permanent and more effective. Tracking and tracing is like chasing the horse after it has broken down the gate and bolted. Associated lockdowns destroy people's lives, and therefore must stop.
Hotels in Australia's big cities are flawed as quarantine stations. My understanding is they circulate microscopic viral material in the air conditioning systems because they don't have adequate filters. Corridors do not circulate air. Rooms do not have negative air pressure to prevent the escape of viral material. Despite frequent testing, hotel quarantine workers continue to spread the virus in densely populated capital cities. Quarantine workers must have up-to-date vaccinations, no other jobs, frequent testing, and have minimal contact with those in quarantine. CCTV cameras and ankle bracelets would help with the arm's-length supervision of arrivals. There can be no exceptions to supervised hotel quarantine, such as home quarantining for the wealthy or well connected.
Australia therefore needs designated quarantine hotels that are near major international airports and ship passenger terminals. These hotels should be designed humanely but for the purpose of quarantining. As part of the hotel's design, each room must have its air isolated. It will need its own air con and viral filter. Corridors must be kept pressurised using other air cons on each floor. The days of shore excursions for ship passengers may be over for the next decade. Quarantine hotels should be federally funded. Part of the cost could be borne by passengers.
Geoff Black, Caves Beach
Rev-up on drivers missed trend
ONE can only presume that Jeff Corbett was being deliberately provocative in his opinion piece, ('What drives me crazy', Newcastle Herald 13/2) by trotting out tired old tropes about age and gender and suggesting, surely tongue in cheek, that "we" should encourage older women drivers to stay off the roads and in COVID-19 lockdown.
It is neither women nor older drivers who are involved in most motor vehicle accidents. As at June, 2020, Transport NSW reported that motor vehicle accidents resulting in serious injury involved 67.3 per cent of men and 32.5 per cent of women. Over a third of those serious injuries involved drivers aged 26 to 49 years and 13 per cent by drivers aged over 70 years. As at December 2020, 220 of the 299 motor vehicle deaths on NSW roads were male.
There may be other factors apart from safe driving which impact including how many men drive and how often and how far as compared to women and older people.
Regarding the M1 Motorway, drivers are not required to drive up to the speed limit and may if they wish lower their speed and drive to the conditions as long as they stay out of the right passing lane. The leading causes of motor vehicle accidents are speed and tailgating, where impatient drivers of either gender harass and intimidate. Why do signs on the M1 highway ask drivers to avoid tailgating, and not demand they don't tailgate?
Name and address withheld
No need for serve at the tennis
I HAVE just witnessed two scary examples of how patriotism can be quickly transformed into an unruly, undignified and ultimately inappropriate example of 'redneck' nationalistic mob mentality. The first was of course, the storming of the US Capitol on January 6th. The second was the crowd at Friday night's Kyrgios vs Thiem tennis match.
Whoever these people are surely cannot describe themselves as tennis fans, as tennis fans would know how to respect both players on the court and afford both combatants support. This rowdy, heckling, and unsportsmanlike group of boofheads were no doubt in the minority in the crowd but nevertheless dominated the atmosphere within the arena and probably made many Aussies embarrassed, uncomfortable and ashamed. It demonstrated to me what a fine tennis champion young Mr Thiem is by keeping his patience and poise on the court, and providing an eloquent and respectful post-match interview upon his victory.
I know that Tennis Australia and many others consider such behaviour atmosphere. Encourage your favourite player, but to boo, clap and heckle the opponent is not called for and is certainly not tennis.
Tony Bennett, Broke
Wave goodbye until it's less risky
I WISH to add my support to previous calls for the World Surf League competition, proposed to be held in Newcastle, to be cancelled. Surfest 2021 was cancelled due to COVID-19 and so should this competition be. We have not suffered from COVID-19 anywhere near as much as most other parts of the world. We do not need to be unnecessarily bringing in people from COVID-19-ravaged countries. While the competitors may isolate, this is no guarantee, as can be seen in Melbourne. There have been no COVID-19 cases in Newcastle for many months, and we want this to continue. It appears that the council in Lennox Head did not approve the event and I suggest a proper period of consultation should have occurred in Newcastle. If this was a normal year then I would have no objections. However, like 2020, this is not shaping as a normal year.
Peter Thompson, Newcastle East
Learn lesson on teacher woes
FOR regional schools to attract high performing teachers to fulfill an obvious void in the country to gain better results is somewhat visionary when recent statistics disclosed that a mere 43 percent of remote area students completed year twelve.
Deputy NSW Premier John Barilaro's plan to encourage remote country teaching is speculative when it is considered that the failure to retain many teachers beyond their first five years after graduation is a distraction. That high achievers are attracted to the service to enhance teacher quality is deceptive. The ability to connect with young people, dedication and collegiality surely are requisites; empathy and emotional intelligence surpass the non-insightful presenter.
Gaping needs for teacher support have been evident for some time. The placement of expertise as resource teachers in the basics have been sparsely utilised. Many in disadvantaged secondary school localities find pupil/teacher connection challenging with the need for recording and reporting. They find themselves drowning in paperwork far beyond the supposed norm of lesson preparation and evaluation.
Whatever has happened to the ideal of three-year country service, and the complementary points system of school/region allocation to attract teachers to the bush? Perhaps this is under review with the needed inclusive VET career subject resurgence, through TAFE direction.
Bob Allen, Hawks Nest
SOME time ago I wrote to the Newcastle Herald regarding the Christine Holgate 'assassination' by bully boy Morrison. I suggested then that the real reason was her ability to carry out her CEO's duties better than almost anyone, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison. My letter was not printed but I see from today's paper that Anne Lawler ('Don't let Australia Post CEO's watch be over', Herald 13/2) probably had the same thoughts as I had. As I said in my first note, just Google Christine Holgate to see what I'm talking about.
Bill Livingstone, New Lambton
WHILE I agree with the inability of drivers to negotiate roundabouts and even give way/stop signs I think there is a new stigma for drivers. Each time the see a white van the brakes come on and the tail back is massive. No warning signs for the revenue collectors are as big an aggravator as a money maker.
Glenn Turton, Cardiff Heights
AFTER watching ABC TV this week it would appear that most ABC employees have many doubts about having the COVID-19 vaccine (particularly on Q&A). Rather than being a problem this may well help the vaccination program. If all ABC TV employees are prevented from having the vaccine (they will be happy) then they could be used as a control group of people not having the vaccine. The medical profession will be happy, the ABC will be happy, and we will see if the vaccine is working.
John Hollingsworth, Hamilton
REGARDING Jeff Corbett's article ('What drives me crazy', Opinion 13/2), since the state government has done away with warning signs for mobile speed cameras I think drivers are more cautious.
Col Page, Adamstown
ONE of the side effects of having to watch commercial TV to watch the tennis is that it helps to explain the growth of the streaming platforms that are expanding rapidly. The utter banality of the programs that are promoted during the game breaks are why I don't watch free TV and also a growing number of others I know.
Frank Ward, Shoal Bay
RAY Peck (Short Takes, 13/2): you say global warming needs a global solution, not nit picking and finger pointing, which I totally agree with. However, this statement was made after you quoted per capita figures showing Australia emits more carbon dioxide then China. Last time I looked, China has a population of 1.5 billion; that's a long bow to draw in comparison. I believe the best way to see what the weather is doing is to look out the window; maybe you need to go to China and have a look? And while we are at it, China has signed up to meet emissions 10 years after everyone else. They are playing everyone for fools and climate advocates such as yourself should stop using them as examples of progression.