Just when we were rather pleased with ourselves in South Australia, we are brought up short.
From midnight tonight, South Australia will be locked down: the most severe lockdown we have had since the beginning of this pandemic. Basically, you cannot leave your house except to buy food or for emergencies – a long list of instructions has been published of what you can and cannot do.
The news spread fast and the response by the public was instantaneous. It was as if there would be a lockdown on the supermarkets as well. The parking lots were full within minutes. There were queues to get into the supermarkets and every trolley that came out was heavily laden. Once more, the toilet rolls were targeted; the meat shelves were emptied and there was not a loaf of bread left in sight. Madness.
We are not even allowed to order takeaways during this time. I felt sorry for all those restaurants and fast-food outlets that had perishable stocks. They had no warning.
If you are travelling within South Australia, you had 12 hours to make a choice. Either you decided to stay where you were for the next six days or you had to rush home before midnight tonight. I have some friends who had just arrived in the Flinders Ranges, over 500 km north of us. They have spent one night there of the three planned. If they had not heard from anyone of these events, they will have a challenge trying to get home in time. Large parts of the Flinders Ranges are out of telephone range.
There are not many cases in our state, but apparently this particular strain of the virus is spreading very rapidly and has a short incubation period of 24 hours, with many people showing minimal symptoms. The virus escaped from one of the quarantine hotels in the centre of Adelaide. The source was a returning traveller from the UK. A cleaner working in the hotel apparently got infected from a surface. But that idea is disputed. She managed to infect her mother: a woman of 80 years old. And that older woman ended up in hospital and was diagnosed. Meanwhile, her large family, over the few days, had visited many places, sending children to school and university etc. We now have the long list of places online, (including certain buses), which are considered potential sources of infection.
Testing centres have been overwhelmed and people are waiting 5 to 6 hours to be tested. The centres are now going to be open 24 hours. 5,000 people are in self-isolation / quarantine including 100 police.
Our State is trying what they call a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to get on top of the spread. This will be followed by an 8 day less stringent lockdown. We just have to hope it works so all our plans for Christmas and being with family interstate are not scuppered. Our Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, is very popular and we have faith in her decisions.
This is not a major catastrophe for us in South Australia. Or neighbouring state of Victoria endured a 4-month lockdown. If this is what it takes to contain this outbreak, we have to go with it.