By John Dooley

NEWS last weekend that a COVID case was alive in Mildura came as a shock to residents but probably not a surprise.

A Mildura man in his 30s who attended the member’s reserve at the MCG the weekend before had contracted the virus when he attended the Geelong − Carlton game on Saturday, July 10.

It is believed the same man in presented himself to the Mildura Base Public Hospital with COVID symptoms on last Saturday night and subsequently tested positive. Since then a person who lives with the man also tested positive.

As of Wednesday there were no new cases in Mildura as high rates of testing continued with additional staff from Bendigo Health coming to the region on Monday.

Over the weekend, Mildura Base Public Hospital CEO, Terry Welch had said the hospital was bracing for more cases.

“That’s a reality. We have to be well and truly prepared for a higher number of potential cases,” he said. “The key is going to be the testing.”

It is understood that 55 hospital staff had been identified as close contacts and were self-isolating depleting staff numbers leading to some hospital frontline personnel working double shifts.

A testing station has been established at the Twelfth Street Ovals and long queues began to form on Sunday afternoon soon after the site opened.

On Monday afternoon an additional − ‘Tier 1’ testing station was opened up at the Old Aero Ovals within minutes a long queue had formed as people rushed to be tested. The the volume people waiting in their cars to be tested overwhelmed the system which resulted in many people being turned away. By Wednesday the traffic volume had dropped right of with almost 3000 tests having been carried out to that point in time.

As more than 13.5 million Australians are put into lockdown, Victoria’s has been extended to Tuesday next week, with no guarantees if will be lifted then. Victorian residents in NSW red zones will now require an exemption to enter the state and South Australia has also gone into lockdown.

About last week’s headline…

WHEN the ‘Weekly published last week’s paper, the latest advice available to the media was that tougher restrictions, not a lockdown, were going to be announced on Thursday afternoon.

Files for our paper go to the printer at 1pm. The headline read ‘FAMILIAR RING’ with the sub-heading saying ‘Victoria escapes another lockdown…for now at least’.

The news starting to by mid-afternoon and by the time the paper was printed (in Wodonga), was that Melbourne may go into a snap lockdown.

By 4pm, and just before the 5pm press conference where Premier Daniel Andrews fronted the media, the betting had moved to a full locking down of the entire state. This proved to be the case. It was annoying and a little embarrassing for the ‘Weekly to say the least − but it was unavoidable.

‘So Here we go again’ would have been the headline had we have known. Again being the fifth lockdown that Victorians have had to endure in the past almost 18 months.

I suspect that many people don’t blame Daniel Andrews or the Victorian Government, but rather they are starting to think the blame belongs fairly and squarely at the feet of the Federal Government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Australia was virtually COVID free in early December 2020, while the rest of the world was being savaged by it. Why didn’t the Government slam close the gates to the Australian border, an Island nation then? – the question is increasingly being asked.

The Government had already seen on numerous occasions what happens when you let COVID carrying people from overseas into the country and put them into so-called quarantine – it doesn’t work – it eventually gets loose into the community.

One Sydney limousine driver encountering an infectious returned overseas traveller lit-the-fuse on the recent outbreak that has sent more than half of Australians into lockdown! The insanity of this is breathtaking and there is a resentment building toward the Federal Government on a number of fronts which is reflected in the latest polls which shows their shares going south, largely due to their mis-handling of the vaccine roll-out.

Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg has been out in the media trumpeting the Government’s economic successes, including a less than five per cent unemployment rate – the lowest in a very long time.

Well done Josh, but what about the decimated small business economy that has been brought to its knees by your Government’s failure to adequately protect this nation against COVID?

The real cost of this pandemic to Australia’s economy and its citizens may never be totally quantified – the figure will be horrendous – not to mention the toll it has taken on people’s mental health and resilience and our children’s education. In Mildura we sit and hold our collective breath – hoping we are going to get out of this local breakout relatively unscathed let’s hope that is the case.