The COVID variant commonly known as Omicron was originally meant to be called the Xi variant, as that was the letter of the Greek alphabet next in line to be used to name it. However, the World Health Organisation showed its usual backbone and named it Omicron so as not to offend the communist dictator Xi Jinping, whose regime has been most instrumental in the inadvertent (?) spread of this plague.
Yesterday, total covid numbers in Australia rose by just under 65000 to about 612,000 cases since the plague began 2 years ago. That is a one day increase of 11%. At this rate, we will hit 1 million cases by next Tuesday and everyone in Australia could catch the plague by the end of February.
Globally, yesterday there were 2.3 million new cases – the most daily cases reported ever – during one of the earlier waves the daily case numbers approached 900,000 at their peak.
Maybe the Xi variant is just nuisance value, although just like it’s namesake, I am not prepared to take the risk on that.
And today we have the debacle of tennis superstar and famous anti-vaxxer Djokovic being refused entry to Australia, although several days ago Tennis Australia and the Victorian government had announced that he was going to be allowed to come and play in The Australian Open. I am not so interested in the details as to how and why he was originally told he could come (it all seems quite Byzantine to me), only to be stopped at the airport on arrival, as to what the hell was going through the minds of the people who announced his exemption in the first place?
It strikes me as something particularly tone deaf. Here, we have been going through two years of lockdowns and draconian suppression of rights such as those of expression and protest. People have been significantly economically disadvantaged by extended closures of their businesses. Some 2000 Australians have died, and many others seriously ill. Vaccinations, whilst not technically mandatory, are required to enter most shops, and indeed to work in most occupations. Queues for Covid tests take many hours, and now people have taken to queuing outside pharmacies to buy the home tests this week. We have a new wave of shortages of groceries due to the latest wave causing many supermarket and logistics staff to have to isolate. We have to wear masks and incessantly scan QR codes thanks to this plague.
And Tennis Australia thinks someone who is rich and famous can just waltz in despite not being vaccinated?
It does make me suspect, as many people already believe, that in Australia, we have one rule for the rich, and one rule for everyone else.
In the meantime, we have this Xi variant ripping its way through the population. Whilst I write, just the totals announced for Victoria, NSW and QLD are over 60,000 this morning. I really think we will get to a million cases by Tuesday. The damage that this plague is doing to small businesses, grassroots sporting and community groups, and civil society generally is going to take years to repair. Disruption to the The Australian Open, whilst this tournament is a source of prestige to Australians generally and to Melbourne, is minor collateral damage – although Tennis Australia appears to be headed by people who have the ear of politicians, people who are tone deaf.