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Thursday, 15 October 2020 23:02

The Strange Case of the Shepparton Superspreader

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Covid madness is alive and well and living in Victoria.

Covid madness is alive and well and living in Victoria.

 

There is a peculiar madness of Victorians in these strange days of 2020.

Living in a dystopian bubble has taken its toll, clearly.  It is now a parallel universe, and living there resembles a padded cell, where the appropriate prison attire is the straightjacket.

Journalists sit masked and distanced in strange daily events presided over by the Dear Leader.  Empty streets are patrolled by masked and armed officials of the Deep State.  A sense of fear and loathing abounds.  The people, if you can ever find them on the deserted, windswept streets, tip-toe around in the non-curfewed hours.  They are masked, cowed and anxious.

The sheer awfulness of life in this hellhole deserves our sympathy.  The bizarre Victorian story now gets repeated all over the world.  The state is famous for all the wrong reasons.

The American writer and commentator Tom Woods has a friend who has a friend in Melbourne.  This is his poignant yet alarming story (punctuation as is):

Three months since i saw another human face besides [my partner's]
7 months since [my partner] and I had a little break together in the form of going and having a coffee down the street 
Over a year since i last sat out in nature
Sitting staring at the wall for 2 hours, again.. unable to move 
Despair 
Horrible negative emotions virtually all day
Awake entire nights, distress
I cant think of anything to look forward to because i dont know when we will be allowed to do anything 
Just go for a drive, go to the forest
Just go somewhere together, far from all of this
We are not allowed
The police could enter our homes at any point and arrest us if we say the 'wrong' thing online
This doesnt feel human 
I don't smile 
I dont laugh
I worked out the other day and felt nothing, no pain
Nothing would register as pain
I couldn't feel anything 
I feel far away from myself 
Sometimes i forget how long the day has been going for
Does it matter?
You're not allowed to leave? Even if family members are terminally ill? They could die before we are let out of Melbourne, got told it isnt a good enough reason to be let out of the state
Literally not allowed to move house
I think WA is letting Victorians in now but we cant get to the airport to fly out of here because the airport is more than 5ks from our house 
You arent allowed more than 5ks from your house
You arent allowed to buy a takeaway coffee and sit under a tree or on the ground anywhere that isnt your house 
Inhuman 
This isnt human
This isnt human
This isnt human
This isnt human
There is no empathy here
No price is too high
Suicide is not too great a price to pay 
Self harm is not too great a price to pay
Structural brain changes in large portions of the population is not too high a price to pay
Do you know what prolonged social isolation does to the brain?
We are made to feel it does not matter
Because all we are, are numbers
We are not people we are the masses
without a say
Without a time period to look forward to when we can hug again 
I am sharing my experience because you should know the truth

Sincerely

A faceless number in Melbourne…

An awful story, repeated in full in a lecture in Georgia.  A story that captures the whole apocalyptic madness.

Here are some other heartfelt Victorian stories:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-06/melbourne-residents-life-in-stage-4-coronavirus-lockdown/12624814

That these stories are now commonly told doesn’t seem to faze the Branch Covidians in charge of policy.  Loud dissenting, even mildly questioning, voices are few and far between in the Garden State.  There are some, though, and they don’t all come from the libertarian right.  Peter Singer, not someone I often have cause to quote, is alarmed about the actions taken by governments in Victoria and elsewhere:

Even if lockdowns do save lives in the countries that institute them, that isn’t sufficient to show that it is the right path for a government to take.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/we-should-be-counting-years-of-life-lost-or-saved-20201008-p56362.html

The mental health impacts of prolonged lockdown are known to be severe.  The global evidence is that cases of depression and anxiety are reaching stratospheric levels.  Suicides have spiked.  The many elderly who will die alone and unloved make for one of the great modern tragedies.  Those who are unable to see their dying parents and other loved ones will surely be scarred for life.  The horrible stories of loneliness and despair remind us of the fragility of the human condition when all normalcy is removed.

Here is one assessment of the emerging Victorian mental health situation:

https://theconversation.com/melbournes-second-lockdown-will-take-a-toll-on-mental-health-we-need-to-look-out-for-the-vulnerable-142172

Is Covid making all Victorians just a little insane, though?  Living within the Covid lockdown bubble is perhaps taking its toll and reducing Victorians’ sense of perspective.

The last week has seen “the case of the Shepparton superspreader”.  It sounds a little like the title of an old Perry Mason episode.  At a distance, and from one who is utterly bemused by all the Covid fuss at the best of times, even to say the phrase out loud is to be forced to suppress a chuckle.  Are these guys for real?

To summarise briefly, a truck driver from Melbourne has been (legally) driving around regional Victoria, but he didn’t report a stopover in one town.  A few people in towns where he visited then had a few Covid positive tests. 

As the Daily Mail reported it:

Fury after a SINGLE super-spreader caused two worrying regional coronavirus outbreaks which threaten to completely derail Victoria's recovery after months of lockdown chaos – after an infected Melburnian was allowed to wander the state…

“Fury”.  “Worrying”.  “Wander the State”.

The Deep State is all over it:

Speaking to 3AW this morning, Department of Health and Human Services Commander of Testing and Community Engagement, Jeroen Weimar, said the individual was originally linked to the Chadstone shopping centre butcher shop cluster in Melbourne.

He then travelled to several regional areas, but failed to inform authorities of his whereabouts for two weeks.

Yes, there really is someone with the job title “Human Services Commander of Testing”.

Shepparton has gone, well, viral, with headlines like this and crazy scenes:

Mass queues for COVID-19 testing in Shepparton after Melbourne man triggers outbreak …

The story goes on:

Concerned residents have turned up for COVID-19 testing in droves in regional Victoria after an infected truck driver from Melbourne is accused of triggering an outbreak.

Queues of up to 80 metres quickly formed as thousands turned up for testing at Shepparton after three coronavirus cases emerged in the area, stemming from the infected Melbourne man who travelled to the town.

The man has been referred to police for breaching restrictions and withholding information from authorities.

Queues eighty metres long?  Several hours long?  It is almost as though Collingwood were having a training session there.  We know that Victorians love watching footy (well, AFL) teams training.  This is testing madness, another of the many symptoms of Covid mania.

I have been to Shepparton, mostly famous for the fear of losing its SPC Ardmona factory and its being a potential stop on the much mooted but never-to-be-built Melbourne to Brisbane very fast train.  They are clearly short on excitement.

Reactions to the truckie have been intense, insulting and bordering on hysterical.  He lied!  He is an idiot!  No, worse, a Covidiot!  According to one newspaper commenter, he should have his legs broken.  Others want him merely jailed.  The spittle flecked reactions have to be read to be believed.  He is the new Ned Kelly, a blood covered quasi-serial killer roaming the State selecting his unsuspecting victims at random and wreaking carnage and devastation.  The media have even published maps of the truck driver’s route across Victoria.  Kilmore.  Benalla.  Shepparton.  Who will be next for a visit by this Son of Sam?  Shock horror.  He even visited a café, and Bunnings!

This barrage of abuse was described as “everyday Aussies” expressing their “outrage”.  Whereas I would term it madness.  The Premier of the once great State of Victoria put on his serious face and intoned:

Places have been visited that are not allowed. You're not allowed to go to Bunnings if you're from Melbourne. The rules in Melbourne follow you and they follow you for good reason…

Then this:

“You don’t get in trouble if you tell the full story, I want to make that clear to people,” the Premier said. “You potentially do get into trouble if you don’t.

“By trouble, I am not just talking about a fine but there are infections in Shepparton today that we know of and there is almost certainly going to be more that were all completely preventable if this individual had told the full story. He wouldn’t have got into trouble for telling the whole story.”

Compulsory contact tracing, then.  There is more:

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has also posted a stern message on Twitter urging people to be “honest” about their whereabouts.

While not specifically referring to the superspreader, Prof Sutton said withholding information could kill.

So now we have accusations of murder.  Or at least of manslaughter.  This, of course, is a bit rich coming from one who works hand in glove with Victoria’s manslaughterer-in-chief.  Young Brett clearly doesn’t get irony.

He added:

It is not to emphasise that you can catch people out, but the reality is, if there is another cluster that emerges and someone says "I saw X, Y and Z" you will be found out.

Well, I for one have little doubt that you WILL be found out, what with a whole army of fired up Victoria curtain twitchers.

The Deputy Premier of Victoria said that the poor old truckie’s “omission” “beggars belief”.  Really?

A Victorian journalist opined:

Victoria’s superspreader was able to lie to authorities about his movements because the authorities did not exercise powers available to them, it emerged today.

We need even more powers, then, more brutally enforced.

This is all about a contact and trace system about whose efficacy health experts in the UK and elsewhere have determined to be “marginal” at best.  Yet Victorians have, seemingly, turned en masse into a contact trace true believers, contact trace obsessives and contact trace gestapo.  It is a core element of testing madness and the casedemic obsessions now extant among the most avid Covid watchers.

All for a disease about which the British journalist Peter Hitchens has stated:

The most common symptom of the coronavirus is feeling absolutely fine.

I am yet to read any report on the Shepparton “disaster” which says whether any of those who tested positive are actually sick.  What with false positives and the generally asymptomatic impacts of Covid on “sufferers”, who even knows if there is any impact whatsoever from the “idiot” truck driver?  The number of cases recorded in Shepparton – is three!  Yes, three.  I am not aware of ANY cases in Kilmore.  I sourced this information from a web site called “covid live”.  Yes, there is a web site called “covid live”.  The Covid obsession is a form of madness, and the state of Victoria is awash with Covid obsession superspreaders. 

Now I understand that some of the rabid responses to the behaviour of this unfortunate truckie are prompted by the ludicrous regime of the mad Emperor of MelDanistan who routinely locks down a place at the very suggestion of a positive Covid test.  They suffer if someone breaks the rules.  Businesses close.  People return to unemployment.  Curfews return.  Restrictions re-apply.

The Deep State and their useful idiots in the media and on social media have been persuaded to turn on the innocent and the sceptical with all the weapons of vitriol at their disposal.

Now it is understandable why a politician – let us not call him a leader – would want to deflect attention from his own culpability in eight hundred Covid deaths, using the tactic of “look over there – at the “superspreader!”  What is far more worrying is the extent to which his fellow Victorians, possibly driven to madness by their sad confinement, seem to have signed up for the insanity.

Putting my old economic developer’s hat back on for one moment, I would venture to predict that Victoria’s two biggest growth industries are likely to be superspreader shaming and kool-aid manufacture and distribution.

Oh, and as of Tuesday there were 186 active cases of Covid across Victoria.  21 are in hospital.  Out of a population of 6.359 million.  Eight active cases all up in regional Victoria.  Gosh.  Did someone say “proportional”?

Brett Sutton tweets in a call to arms:

Crush it Shepparton.  Test and quarantine.  You can do it.

He might have added – “this is war”.  The battle for Shepparton makes Long Tan look like a walk in the park.  But it isn’t war.  It is madness.  The madness of Victoria.

Spreading inane fear works, clearly.  God help them all down there.

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Paul Collits

Paul Collits is a freelance writer and independent researcher who lives in Lismore New South Wales.  
 
He has worked in government, industry and the university sector, and has taught at tertiary level in three different disciplines - politics, geography and planning and business studies.  He spent over 25 years working in economic development and has published widely in Australian and international peer reviewed and other journals.  He has been a keynote speaker internationally on topics such as rural development, regional policy, entrepreneurship and innovation.  Much of his academic writing is available at https://independent.academia.edu/PaulCollits
 
His recent writings on ideology, conservatism, politics, religion, culture, education and police corruption have been published in such journals as Quadrant, News Weekly and The Spectator Australia.
 
He has BA Hons and MA degrees in political science from the Australian National University and a PhD in geography and planning from the University of New England.  He currently has an adjunct Associate Professor position at a New Zealand Polytechnic.