IT'S increasingly clear that a quicker Sydney lockdown could have prevented the tentacle spread of Delta variant of COVID into parts of regional NSW and three other states.
What's also apparent, as the various premiers urge the public to accept and comply with their expanding lockdown regimes, is the federal government's reluctance to unroll the expensive but effective JobKeeper/JobSeeker security blanket a second time.
In various forums yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison hyped the recently increased federal payments, and rejected a return to JobKeeper, saying it was a solution to last year's problem that would take too long - four weeks - to roll out, when help was needed now.
Mr Morrison may yet be forced to reintroduce JobKeeper, but hopefully with some sort of claw-back provisions to counter some of the corporate pocket-padding uncovered the first time around.
He did take responsibility for the vaccine rollout, which he described as two months behind schedule, while pointing out that other countries were in similar positions.
The international situation does vary, and the Newcastle Herald has repeatedly acknowledged the security afforded by our southern hemisphere isolation.
But we should have used that security to inoculate ahead of time, given the repeated credible warnings - since proved correct - that the virus would mutate, and that Australia would find itself besieged sooner or later.
Here in the Hunter we sit on the edge of the Greater Sydney/Central Coast restrictions, understandably worried that the current trickle of exposure sites in our region will explode into a rush of cases.
In the meantime, the view from shopping centres and other public places indicates we are as diligent - if not more so - in mask-wearing than more at-risk Sydneysiders.
Given the risks, that is smart behaviour.
Ordinarily, an Olympic Games would provide relief for a weary world, but more than 80 of the 11,000 athletes who've arrived in Tokyo have already tested positive for COVID.
Officials say this is what they "expected to see", but the mood in Japan is reportedly grim.
Horribly, it may yet prove to be. Unfortunately, as with the NSW lockdowns, any post-Olympic reaction may be too little, too late.
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