Aussie attitudes blamed for virus spread
Authorities have laid the blame for a surge in coronavirus infections in Victoria on "creeping complacency" and a sense of frustration with lockdowns that have fuelled risky behaviour in the state.
As Australians have watched in horror at pictures of beach parties in Florida or packed pubs in London, health experts and political leaders have taken aim at the 'she'll be right' Australian attitude the virus has been able to exploit.
On Tuesday, as he braced Victorians for the coming six-week lockdown that will affect Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire residents, Premier Daniel Andrews conceded a combination of frustration and slackness had put his state into a virus-driven retreat.
He spoke of the two Victorians that have lost their lives to the virus in the last 36 hours without family or friends by their side.
"Thankfully, it's a fate that most Victorian families have not been asked to endure. And I think, for some, that's led to a creeping complacency.
"But although today it's someone else - tomorrow it could be you, or me.
"I know a lot of people aren't scared because this feels like something happening to other people in other parts of the world. But you should be scared of this. I'm scared of this. We all should be."
Mr Andrews said the return to lockdown was "deeply frustrating" but for every piece of health advice ignored "the consequence may be someone's life."
"Now more than ever, we need Victorians to play their part. Lives are counting on it.
"If you've been watching the scenes overseas of hospital wards drowning in patients, desperate for ventilators and people dying alone on trolleys, then I have a message for you: The only thing standing between us and that is what we do next."
The stark appeal to personal responsibility came after revelations of quarantine bungles in the state including inadequate training and allegations of guards sleeping with returned travellers.
In a later press conference, Mr Andrews said people mixing with large family groups and failing to get tested for mild symptoms had also played a role in fuelling the spread.
"I'll take you back to an example: a person gets infected, they're in a family of six, or seven or eight or even 10 people, they then go home, they're unwell.
"They don't get tested for quite some time. They're wildly infectious, they go and visit other families.
"Small, large, north, south, doesn't matter where it happened, but all of a sudden you have a virus out there and it runs so quickly that even the delay in taking a test and getting it processed is enough to see a doubling and a doubling again."
The Premier added: "The mildness of it, that's the real devil to it.
"The fact that so many people can have it and not even feel unwell or if they do, the symptoms are so mild that they're not a prompt to go and get tested.
"This is binary. It is life and death … And I don't want to hear any more of this stuff from younger people or from otherwise healthy people regardless of their age, that 'it won't affect me'. Well, it will, it will affect you."
On Tuesday night Health Minister Greg Hunt praised Victorians for having "overwhelmingly done a magnificent job" but said a number of people felt all bets were off after the Black Lives Matter protests took place in the city.
"Coupled with the hotel quarantine breaches, there were a small number of people who felt that once the protests had occurred, then 'gosh if it's okay for ten-thousand people to get together, then surely it's okay for ten," he told Sky News host Chris Kenny.
"The sense of a double standard was quite strong, and there was a clear mood against that as a result".
Similarly, Mr Andrews' Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton, suggested a lack of social distancing between senior students at Al Taqwa College contributed to a community wide lockdown.
Professor Sutton said the school had suffered "substantial" transmission and spread among senior students in the same way it did among adults.
"They are older kids, they tend to have more transmission that is akin to adults if they're not doing the physical distancing appropriately," he said.
In addition to ineffective management of the quarantine system and a "creeping complacency" in some members of the public, ten Melbourne towers have been locked down amid fears the virus could spread due to cramped living conditions where residents are forced to share lifts and live in small properties making isolation in the home difficult.
On Tuesday night, infectious diseases expert Professor Mary Louise McLaws blamed authorities for the slackness which led to an outbreak caused by Victoria's "perfect storm" of failures.
Professor McLaws suggested family outbreaks, which include a North Melbourne Muslim family, should have been better managed by the government or health officials.
Nine cases were linked to the Brimbank family outbreak, and another outbreak sourced to the Stamford Plaza Hotel resulted in multiple infections.
"It's a coming together of a lot of issues that have caused this spike," Professor McLaws said.
"It's something that the authorities could have been proactively identifying and working against, had they identified family clusterings earlier, to try to give them verbal instructions on how to prevent further infection," she said.
"It's all a perfect storm, unfortunately," she told the Ten Network show on Tuesday night.
Originally published as Aussie attitudes blamed for virus spread