In the discussion about the twelve NSW local government “areas of concern” that are under tighter restrictions, I’ve noticed that the number of people affected is never mentioned. So I looked it up and there are more than 2.3 million people living in the twelve LGAs (table below).
About 1 in 10 people in Australia live in a NSW Local Government Areas of Concern, which means they’re under curfew and need permits to leave their LGAs
As Prof Catherine Bennett points out, reducing the reproduction rate of the Delta variant to 1.2-1.3 has itself been a major achievement.
However, because COVID spreads based on inequalities – insecure work, where people live, housing conditions, inability to isolate – a targeted approach based on epidemiological data alone can lead to interventions that reinforce inequities. Interventions like curfews, limiting people to one hour outside the home, and increased policing are unlikely to have an influence on COVID transmission. If anything, they’re only likely to lead to increased criminal justice engagement and charges. They’re also not based on public health evidence.
Because these measures are only being imposed in the poorer parts of Sydney where COVID is circulating most, they’re entrenching determinants of health inequity.
Eighteen months ago, when I was still trying to figure what COVID was all about, I wrote:
There is likely to be a social gradient in transmission, i.e. the poor are more likely to get COVID-19, at least at first. This is a concern that some have already flagged in the U.S.
If there is a social gradient in the disease, there needs to be a social gradient in our response. The most affected locations and communities should be the focus of the health system’s initial response (we can’t just assume this will be the case). If antiviral therapies are found to be effective, or if a vaccine is eventually developed, consideration should be given to deploying them to poorer areas first.
Thanks to Cate Carrigan and Croakey for the chance to chat about COVID and compliance theatre in Western Sydney – and what might make a difference.
“The thing that gives me hope is that if you look at the numbers, they really peaked in Fairfield a month ago and have come down. This is because of the huge efforts by community groups there,” says Harris-Roxas.
The Assyrian, Lebanese, Sudanese and Syrian communities are providing material assistance and information to their networks, using Zoom and social media, he says.
The value of these community ties has been evident in the strong response to the vaccine clinic set up by the Lebanese Muslim Association at Lakemba in south west Sydney.
An important Croakey post by Cate Carrigan on the myriad mental health impacts of the current lockdown, and subsequent effects on mental health services.
Kids with mild to moderate mental health conditions and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are being smashed by anxiety and effects of remote learning. Younger kids in particular, where the non-academic value of school is in socialisation forming and sustaining friendships etc. We’ll have a whole generation of kids set back by this. Don’t even get me started in kids with severe ASD, ADHD, eating disorders, anxiety, mood disorders or schizophrenia — a psychiatrist practising in South Western Sydney