BY any measure, the current wave of coronavirus cases is causing more disruption than anything that has come before it in this country.
Case numbers are at record levels, with distant and isolated Western Australia the only part of the nation not experiencing a descent into the sort of COVID chaos we have seen in other parts of the world and congratulated ourselves for avoiding.
As various political leaders have noted over the time, it's the virus that runs the show, and all the more so since mid-December, when National Cabinet decided it was time for Australia to learn to "live with COVID".
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The resultant freedoms have led, unsurprisingly, to a huge increase in daily cases.
The "living with COVID" ethos was based on the idea that omicron causes less illness, on average, than earlier types, but the sheer volume of cases mean there's more measured delta in the community than ever, as the Newcastle Herald pointed out on Monday.
Chief NSW health officer Dr Kerry Chant said yesterday that 90 per cent of this state's cases are omicron, implying 3500 new delta cases yesterday before any RAT numbers are considered.
As omicron is not, by and large, putting people in ICU, the bulk of yesterday's 21 deaths in NSW must be down to delta.
Even with shortened isolation periods and pared-down definitions of close contacts, many thousands of people are off work, punching holes through the supply chains that put food and other household necessities on shop shelves.
Rapid tests, if available, are $25 a pop, and to add insult to injury, NSW and other states are now threatening people with $1000 fines for not reporting a positive RAT result.
Having baulked at the responsibility of maintaining the testing system, our governments cannot now turn around and penalise the public for failing to do their job for them.
With JobKeeper gone, governments need to promote the availability of the main COVID welfare tool, the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, which must be applied for weekly.
Business wants the economy to remain as open as possible, but without healthy workers, a health economy is by definition an impossibility.
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