Across much of Australia shoppers are being confronted by unfilled supermarket shelves, parents are being told to "shop around" to find places to get their children vaccinated and the waiting time for a booster shot can be measured in weeks.
Hundreds of thousands of close contacts of COVID-19 cases, who are likely to be positive themselves, are visiting multiple supermarkets and pharmacies in vain attempts to find a rapid antigen test to confirm their status. If they work in an "essential industry" such as food distribution, packing supermarket shelves, or healthcare they are told to report to work if they are asymptomatic.
The opportunities for this to accelerate the spread of the virus are exacerbated given while RAT kits are good at picking up symptomatic cases they are less effective at detecting cases in people in the early stages of infection or who are asymptomatic.
Shifting the emphasis from the overburdened PCR testing sites to self-testing has made an already bad situation even worse. Federal, state, and territory governments have built their latest coronavirus response around a product which is virtually unobtainable and, while being distributed for free in the UK and now the US, is being marked up by corporate profiteers.
In the meantime, while lockdowns are "off the table", large parts of the country are under a "psychological lockdown" with millions choosing to shelter in place. Hospitality and tourism have been hit particularly badly.
Given JobKeeper is a distant memory and you need a positive COVID test to qualify for the pandemic leave disaster payment of $750 a week hundreds of thousands of people who have been directly and indirectly impacted are doing it hard.
Meanwhile Scott Morrison and Dominic Perrottet continue to say their rush to ease social distancing regulations, crowd limits and mask mandates just before Christmas - even though Omicron was already here - did not make the situation worse than it had to be.
That doesn't fly. Western Australia and New Zealand, which have responded to Omicron very differently to the eastern states, have followed a completely different trajectory.
New Zealand, which pledged not to open up until its Indigenous vaccination rate topped 80 per cent, continues to enforce extremely tight border restrictions; unlike Australia which dropped quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers weeks ago. New Zealand, which still has mask mandates for the over 12s, only eased crowd limits on New Year's Eve.
The result? New Zealand had 831 new cases between December 27 and January 9; fewer than the ACT has been recording in a day. What do they know that we don't?
What's the difference between the PM's "push on through" and "let it it rip"? There are millions of people out there who don't get that distinction.
The gear change to which the PM constantly refers was to let political considerations influence health policy; an error committed by state and territory governments as well as the Commonwealth.
It was apparent masks were far and few between at Summernats despite an obvious lack of social distancing at many events. Tens of thousands of people came into Canberra and have now headed back home. If we see another spike in the next few days then we'll know where it came from.
Australia has gone from best in show to an international laughing stock on many levels after being so smug for so long.
Citizens have every right to feel disappointed and let down by governments which need to do a lot more than just say "stay calm and carry on".
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