As the COVID-19 situation in NSW escalates, there are growing calls for leading figures within the NSW government to take responsibility for the crisis.
Over the weekend, the entire state of NSW was plunged into lockdown, and tighter restrictions were imposed on Sydneysiders, as the city dealt with its seventh week of lockdown. On Sunday, NSW reported 415 cases, and four deaths, taking the state’s death toll from the pandemic to over 100 people. On Monday, NSW recorded 478 cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths.
A dangerous situation is unfolding as Indigenous communities in regional NSW are now being affected by COVID-19, where vaccination rates remain startling low.
Speaking on the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday, journalist Samantha Maiden said we are about to start seeing growing calls for someone in the NSW government to resign over the massive failure.
“Gladys Berejiklian wants to talk about this being a war, well at this stage, this is the landing at Gallipoli,” Maiden said. “This is a shocking result in NSW, someone has to take responsibility for it.”
Maiden pointed out that in Victoria’s outbreak last year, the then Health Minister Jenny Mikakos resigned over the state’s botched hotel quarantine program.
“At least in Victoria, the Health Minister resigned. I think you’re going to see growing calls for somebody to resign in NSW,” she said.
On Saturday afternoon, the entire state entered into lockdown, but Premier Gladys Berejiklian did not hold a press conference to announce the news. She had faced the media just hours earlier without mentioning it was a possibility, and then decided a press release on social media was enough to alert the entire state to its new restrictions.
Following the press conference today, I received health advice concerning multiple regional NSW areas. As such, from 5pm tonight, all of regional NSW will go into a seven-day lockdown. This means the whole state is in strict lockdown. pic.twitter.com/urND0bYfkT— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) August 14, 2021
The social media announcement felt chaotic to many in NSW, and speaks to the haphazard way decisions within the state government are being made, and then communicated to the community.
On Insiders, Maiden said anyone who urged the NSW government to avoid a lockdown in the early stages of the outbreak – including Prime Minister Scott Morrison – needs to take responsibility for the delay, which has now proved to be fatal for many people who have since died.
“The difference is, Melbourne peaked and started coming down after a month. Sydney is now seven weeks into this lockdown and cases are continuing to rise,” Maiden said.
“And even when you consider the Delta variant, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that they should have locked down harder and faster and those that urged them not to, and those that encouraged them not to, including the Prime Minister, should take responsibility for that because people are dead.”
It comes as NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said vaccines are not a “silver bullet” to ending the outbreak.
“We are at a fork in the road and we have to decide what path we are going to choose. And the path I want is one where I see declining case numbers and increasing vaccination uptake,” Dr Chant said on Sunday.