In the Australian state of New South Wales, residents are dealing with an outbreak of the COVID-19 delta variant so serious that the top elected state official is urging citizens to rat on one another. Things are so dire that its top public health official wants you to stop having conversations with other people.
And who could blame them? After all, the state — Australia’s most populous and home to Sydney — reported 321 new cases on Saturday.
No, I’m not missing a zero or three there. On Aug. 6, 321 people tested positive for coronavirus. According to government data, 81 lives have been lost in NSW so far during the pandemic.
And yet, parts of the state are currently in nearly total lockdown, with stay-at-home orders for the Greater Sydney area and people only able to leave their home if they “have a reasonable excuse” — including obtaining food, going to work, getting medical treatment and exercising, according to the state government website.
No visitors to your residence unless you live alone — in which case, you can have a “nominated visitor,” provided they aren’t a nominated visitor for someone else. Places of worship aren’t open to the public. Outdoor gatherings are limited to two people. Most retail outlets are closed.
And for rule-breakers, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is encouraging citizens to turn them in.
“Can I also stress that people should expect a greater police presence, a greater focus on compliance because we know the recurring incidents where the disease is transferring — it’s in workplaces and it’s within households,” she said on July 27, after the lockdown was extended another month.
“We really need people to do the right thing at all times.”
“Do not let your guard down. If you see somebody not doing the right thing, please, report it,” she said. “When any of us see anything which is not according to the health rules, or you see even in your own workplace, report it.
“We can’t put up with people continuing to do the wrong thing because it’s setting us all back.”