Screaming COVID halt

The only news in Sydney today is the resurgence of COVID-19. After several weeks of zero or close to zero new cases(*) in Australia, yesterday we had 18 new cases suddenly appear in Sydney, and today they’ve announced another 10 cases. DNA testing indicates the cases are related to a USA strain of COVID, so it’s most likely that someone working in the airport/quarantine area has acquired the virus from an incoming traveller from the US and then spread it into the community.

(*) Locally acquired cases. There are cases who have arrived from overseas and are in quarantine from arrival.

The cases are clustered in the Northern Beaches region of Sydney, in the north-east of the city. That whole region – home to over 250,000 people – has been ordered to stay at home for the next three days, leaving only for essential business such as buying groceries or medical issues, and the rest of Sydney has been advised to avoid travel into the region. All contacts of the known cases and people who attended the same public venues as them have been ordered to get tested for COVID and self-isolate. Other states of Australia have already announced travel restrictions and quarantines or complete border closures to NSW residents.

Several people I know have told me that their families have cancelled their planned Christmas gatherings and travel plans. My wife’s family all live in the Northern Beaches region, so it’s not clear at this time if we’ll be able to have our planned Christmas lunch with them or not.

The next day or two will be crucial to knowing if we have this outbreak under control or not. 28 cases doesn’t sound like a lot to non-Australians, I’m sure, but after weeks of essentially zero new cases, this has got everybody edgy again.

[Written later] In further news today, I received notice that the market where I was to have a stall on Sunday has been cancelled. It’s not in the Northern Beaches region, but it is close, and several of the stallholders would have been travelling from there so couldn’t make it. The market organisers have cancelled both because stallholder turnout would be well down, and of course to avoid potentially spreading the virus further.

Not only was I expecting to make a good profit from Christmas shoppers, which will now be zero, I’d booked a hire car again to carry my stock and equipment to the market. So now I have to cancel that, and since it’s within 48 hours I only get 50% of the fee refunded. So instead of making a nice profit, I’ve made a loss.

And also in response to the news, my friends and I decided that we should convert tonight’s planned face-to-face board games night into another virtual online game session.

So, it’s been a bad day collectively for the city, and individually for me.

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