Covid Sydney: Waleed Aly raises interesting theory about unusual timing of Australia’s outbreaks 


Waleed Aly and Lisa Wilkinson have questioned why Australia’s Covid outbreaks have all appeared to happen right before important public holidays. 

The Project hosts questioned the unusual timing during a discussion about Sydney’s concerning outbreak ahead of Mother’s Day celebrations on Sunday.

Contact tracers are battling to identify how a couple from the city’s eastern suburbs tested positive to the virus despite the husband having no known contact with a confirmed case. 

Tough new restrictions were brought in for all of greater Sydney at 5pm on Thursday for the weekend, including mandatory masks indoors, because of the ‘missing link’.

Aly pointed out the virus could spread faster during home gatherings on Sunday.

‘Here we are again. The Mother’s Day thing is interesting. Indoor is the main issue with COVID,’ he said on The Project on Thursday evening.

Pictured: A women wears a face mask as she walks next to a light rail service at Central Station on Thursday in Sydney

‘We know that from experience – and the weather in Sydney over the weekend is meant to be wet, which means Mother’s Day will probably be inside. Which does increase the risk. It’s not a great situation. 

His co-host Lisa Wilkinson drew the link that many of Australia’s coronavirus outbreaks have come on or near public holidays.

‘The other thing with this virus, what is it about outbreaks and public holidays?’ she said.

‘We’ve got Mother’s Day coming up, Christmas was a disaster in Sydney… Anzac Day in Perth, Easter we had a problem, Valentine’s Day.’ 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was asked to weigh in on whether there was any merit to conspiracy theories that questioned the timing of the outbreak.

‘I think there’d be a conspiracy theory every day during a pandemic,’ she told the Today show.

‘Our job as a government to keep everybody safe and to keep the economy going so people continue to work and have jobs.  

‘Striking that balance is always going to attract controversy.’

Wilkinson’s mention of the ‘disaster’ Christmas in Sydney referred to an outbreak of cases in the city linked to a cluster on the city’s Northern Beaches. 

AUSTRALIA’S PUBLIC HOLIDAY LOCKDOWNS 

Christmas  –  Outbreak of cases on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in the lead-up to Christmas. 

Sydney’s Northern Beaches residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge to Palm Peach spent three weeks under stay-at-home orders until January 10

Valentine’s Day – Victoria was sent into a snap five-day lockdown mid-way through the Australian Open tennis tournament on February 12

Valentine’s Day was two days later, meaning florists and restaurants lost out on vital trade. 

Easter –  Outbreak of cases in south-east Queensland and Byron Bay in northern New South Wales.

Temporary restrictions on residents in Byron Bay over Easter – including masks on public transport and in all public indoor venues.

Brisbane earlier went into a three-day lockdown after a junior doctor and three nurses contracted the UK variant of the virus from two international travellers.

Queenslanders still had to wear a mask when they left home until April 15. 

Anzac Day – Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan cancelled Anzac Day events in Perth last month after the discovery of two community Covid-19 cases.

The city was sent into a snap three-day lockdown, meaning residents could only leave home for an essential reason. Restaurants, cafes and bars were allowed to serve takeaway service only.

 

By Friday December 18, the cluster in Avalon had grown to 38 cases after only two days earlier the state was celebrating a 12-day run of no local transmission.

Sydney’s Northern Beaches residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge to Palm Peach spent three weeks under strict stay-at-home orders before finally being released from lockdown on January 10.

Following the December outbreak, Victoria was plunged into a snap five-day lockdown mid-way through the Australian Open tennis tournament on February 12.

The restrictions meant florists and restaurants lost vital Valentine’s Day business as shops deemed non-essential were forced to close to stop the spread of the virus.

Victorians also had to stay home during the annual celebration of love as the state government acted quickly to shut down the spread of the highly-contagious mutant UK strain of the virus.

There were also fears Easter could be cancelled for millions of Australians after an outbreak of cases in south-east Queensland and Byron Bay in northern New South Wales. 

The tourist town’s popular Bluesfest festival over the Easter weekend was cancelled after an infected nurse travelled to Brisbane for a hen’s night.

The NSW government also imposed temporary restrictions on residents in Byron Bay over Easter – including masks on public transport and in all public indoor venues.

Brisbane earlier went into a three-day lockdown after a junior doctor and three nurses contracted the UK variant of the virus from two international travellers.

Queenslanders still had to wear a mask when they left home until April 15. 

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan then cancelled Anzac Day in Perth last month after the discovery of two community Covid-19 cases prompted him to send the city into a snap three-day lockdown on April 23.

The Project host Waleed Aly suggested on Thursday evening the country's Covid-19 outbreaks have been harder to control because of their timing near public holidays

The Project host Waleed Aly suggested on Thursday evening the country’s Covid-19 outbreaks have been harder to control because of their timing near public holidays

The presenters’ theories came as Sydneysiders are again wearing masks on public transport, in supermarkets and Uber rides as health officials race to figure out how COVID-19 escaped hotel quarantine.

Restrictions for Greater Sydney were re-imposed on Wednesday, including mandatory masks in indoor settings, a 20-person cap on indoor gatherings, and a ban on singing.

A health alert was issued on Thursday evening for Haymarket restaurant XOPP. Diners present between 1.30 and 2.30pm last Wednesday must be tested and self-isolate until they’re negative.

A series of venues have been listed as places where fellow attendees are close contacts who must isolate for 14 days, including the exclusive Royal Sydney Golf Club, a CBD optometrist, and other venues in Paddington, Rushcutters Bay, Moore Park and Collaroy.

Passengers wearing face masks use a light rail service in Sydney on Thursday after Covid-19 restrictions were reimposed

Passengers wearing face masks use a light rail service in Sydney on Thursday after Covid-19 restrictions were reimposed

Other places – including a number of barbecue shops throughout Sydney – are lower-risk, with fellow visitors asked to isolate until they receive a negative result.

There are also alerts for venues Bondi Trattori in the east and Fratelli Fresh in Westfield Sydney.

New Zealand called a time-out on the travel bubble with NSW on Thursday, suspending quarantine-free travel from the state for 48 hours starting first thing Friday.

The relative idyll in NSW was broken after a Sydney man in his 50s tested positive to the virus on Wednesday.

‘We know for a fact there’s at least one person, if not more, walking around with the virus, not knowing they have it or potentially having attended many events and venues … this is a proportionate response,’ Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

Pictured: A map showing all the areas the infected man visited over the weekend, while looking for a barbecue

Pictured: A map showing all the areas the infected man visited over the weekend, while looking for a barbecue

But she urged businesses to stay open and Sydneysiders to show up for their Mother’s Day reservations on Sunday.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed on Thursday his wife had also returned a positive result, but other close contacts had so far tested negative.

The man’s COVID-19 infection is the same strain as a man who was diagnosed in hotel quarantine, but there is no direct link between the two.

Health officials are now racing to find the link between the cases.

NEW RESTRICTIONS FOR GREATER SYDNEY

  • Visitors to households will be limited to 20 guests – including children;
  • Masks will be compulsory on public transport and in all public indoor venues, such as retail, theatres, hospitals, aged care facilities and for front-of-house hospitality staff (except in a hospitality venue when eating or drinking);
  •  Drinking while standing up at indoor venues will not be allowed;
  •  Singing by audiences at indoor shows or by congregants at indoor places of worship will not be allowed;
  •  Dancing will not be allowed at indoor hospitality venues or nightclubs however, dancing is allowed at weddings with a strong recommendation that no more than 20 people should be on the dancefloor at any one time; and
  • Visitors to aged care facilities will be limited to two people. 



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