IF NSW opens up to "freedom" after the state population reaches a 70 per cent vaccination rate that will leave roughly 1.86 million aged over 18 still vulnerable to the virus. By my calculations history tells us that allowing the virus such freedom will see the possibility of 20 per cent of these people, or about 372,000, requiring hospitalisation, with 20 per cent of those, or 74,000, needing an ICU bed. NSW has about 1100 ICU beds at best. Kids under 18 aren't included in these figures. No wonder Dr Kerry Chant and any other guest speaker who actually works in the health system look so stressed each time they are made to appear at the 11am daily spin and propaganda session.
John Arnold, Anna Bay
We put figure on saving lives
I AM sure we all would like to think that a human life is priceless, but it is not and can never be. There is always a monetary limit to saving a life. For example, we could save hundreds, maybe thousands of extra lives per year if we spent tens of billions more on better hospitals, equipment, and staff, improving roads, medical research, reducing domestic violence, reducing child abuse, improving aged care, reducing suicide, fighting the war on drugs, but the result would be a greatly weakened economy. It would also be at the sacrifice of expenditure in other important areas like schools, social housing, infrastructure, defense, charities, the arts, foreign aid etc.
So how do we rationalise spending billions of dollars per week fighting COVID-19? We need to strike a balance between saving lives and severely damaging our economy and society. Maybe start with a policy allowing businesses to open for mask-wearing customers and employees, allowing outdoor gatherings in limited numbers, permitting travel for vaccinated people, getting our kids back to school. Most countries in the northern hemisphere have ceased lockdowns and have opened their borders. I think we need to start doing this sooner (like now) rather than later.
Robert Gibson, Charlestown
Border grievances worth airing
LAST Sunday we flew from Darwin to Brisbane, stayed overnight in Brisbane, and flew to Newcastle on Monday.
We completed the requested entry forms for Queensland, but despite the Queensland health minister rabbiting on for the last 18 months or so about NSW being slack, no one on the flight was checked on arrival, even though Darwin was in lockdown less than two weeks before we arrived into Queensland. It seems ludicrous that the Queensland premier will not allow people living in NSW, in a town straddling the border, to attend the hospital in the Queensland part of the same town, yet anyone can fly into Queensland from goodness knows where with no questions asked.
The same goes for NSW. We completed the forms to enter NSW but no one was checked at Newcastle Airport either. We could have come from any infected community in Australia, even overseas, and no one would have checked us.
If the state governments are allowing unrestricted access to the states by air, what is the point in policing the land borders?
It also makes me dubious about air travel. I could be travelling with infected people from anywhere and not know unless I become infected myself.
Doug Hoepper, Garden Suburb
Don't blame defiance on leaders
ONCE again our premier is pilloried in today's Herald ("How is this happening?", Newcastle Herald 2/9).
To Debra Forbes (Short Takes, 2/9), I say the only way the premier can stop people from coming out of Sydney is to close all of the crossings of the Hawkesbury River. Is this what you want?
COVID rules are in place, but they are being ignored by a tiny minority, who in my opinion are stupid, selfish and ignorant and believe they are above the law. To blame the premier for the actions of a handful of these people is unfair. Instead of a fine, may I suggest a criminal record and 30 days in jail? Draconian I know, but maybe the message will get through.
The conduct of this COVID pandemic debate should be above personal insults and party politics.
Dennis Kershaw, Caves Beach
Buck won't stop with critics
FROM the global to the local: from the climate change deniers and the anti-everything that are anti-pandemic crusaders; to no new dams; to pro and anti Supercars; to criticism of pool flooring to lobbying against stricter liquor trading hours. All put me in mind of the words of US politician Hubert Humphrey in the 1960s: "I wish to suggest that ample opportunity does exist for dissent, for protest, and for nonconformity. But I must also say that the right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously."
To which one might add: especially when you have either a private vested interest, no legal liability or financial accountability for the outcome and/or just want to kick the can down the road for others to pick up the tab.
Or, as perhaps more succinctly put in the movie Flying High, "Surely (Shirley), you can't be serious?"
Rod Stanton, New Lambton
Lockdowns cost more than trade
IN response to Geoff Black, (Letters, 1/9) I only have a couple of questions: which country has both successfully eradicated the COVID-19 virus, and of those countries which ones have opened their borders to allow residents to travel domestically and overseas and return?
We in Australia, like the rest of the world, have to learn to live with this virus assuming we ever want to come out of lockdowns, open our borders (both state and national), pay back the debt and return to some kind of life.
It's a crying shame we as a nation are more focused on lockdowns than we are on youth suicides and the mental wellbeing of our children.
As someone who works face to face with the public, lockdowns are having a detrimental effect on old and young alike.
Andrew Hirst, Beresfield
Lifeline - 13 11 14
Baths base is not only factor
IN a bit of a light-hearted reply to Catherine Whelan, (Letters, 1/9), in relation to the ocean baths and whether concrete bottoms or rocky bottoms contribute more to slimy bottoms in our ocean pools. I would even go further as to say that if we have "rocky bottoms" or "concrete bottoms" what it would take to rectify these conditions can sometimes be too much and we end up with slimy bottoms! I would suggest that maybe, just maybe, there are far too many people with slimy bottoms swimming in our ocean baths, contributing in a big way to the slimy bottom syndrome we currently have. Just saying.
Tony Morley, Waratah
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I THINK there is an underlying reason that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's government is not relaxing its hold on the Hunter just yet, even though our COVID numbers are extremely low in comparison to everywhere else. Maybe they think it will be easier to start sending COVID patients here when Sydney's hospital numbers eventually burst at the seams, as I believe it looks like they could well do. It would be a reprieve to their overworked and understaffed medical teams to share the load with us because we are not very far up the road.
Gary Graham, Raymond Terrace
WHY show people enjoying the beach on the news every night while most of us live more than five kilometres from the beach? Yes, we get it and we are envious of those who can, but surely this government could allow, say, a 20-kilometre limit of travel? That way we can also enjoy the beach once again without incurring a $1000 fine? This is ludicrous. Regarding what Gladys Berejiklian is spruiking about allowing us to travel once we reach 80 per cent, will other states agree and follow suit, especially Queensland? We would like to believe that we can open up and are prepared to continue wearing masks and maybe have log in codes, but for God's sake let's move on in a realistic and methodical transition.
Graeme Kime, Cameron Park
THE tree pruners should not have been allowed to come here to work in the first place ('Lop that!', Newcastle Herald 3/9). We have tree loppers locally not working, then these people go door knocking. Not good. They deserve heavier fines, so do those people who engage them to work on their property when it is against the present laws to have them there. No excuse!
Kevin Miller, Windale
A LETTER you published on Thursday accused Scott Morrison of not being able to produce our own vaccine for COVID. Where has the writer been hiding? AstraZeneca has been produced in Australia since the beginning of the vaccination period, there was that much of it we were sending it to Papua New Guinea for their outbreak. Even at the moment there is apparently plenty of AstraZeneca available.
Allen Small, East Maitland
WHY, when public polls are published, particularly with political agenda, the questions asked, the areas polled and in what order the questions are presented are never published. The placing of a word in a different location can often change the outcome of a story. I reckon it should be up to the media to say no detail; no publish. We the public, especially subscribers to newspapers, expect clarification and detail in news being published, otherwise a waste of ink. Anyone can come up with just numbers. Journalism is more than just numbers.
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
MAL Sinclair, (Letters, 2/9), makes a good point as to the responsibilities of those making political and potentially life-threatening decisions. Just who is to blame if things go "off the rails" as so many of us think? And what to their accountability and comeuppance?