Lisa Wilkinson has expressed fears Sunday’s NRL Grand Final will see a massive spike in Sydney Covid cases with footy-mad fans ignoring lockdown to gather in groups and watch the game.
That’s exactly what happened in Victoria over the long weekend with the state recording its largest-ever one-day jump in infections on Thursday, with 1,438 cases.
Premier Daniel Andrews said AFL Grand Final parties and barbecues are directly linked to the dramatic increase.
The Project host called on Penrith Panthers and South Sydney Rabbitohs supporters still in the midst of intense stay-at-home orders, to take what happened in Victoria as a warning and to stay home for the big game.
Her fears were seconded by co-host Waleed Aly, who warned that long-suffering Melburnians were ‘over’ the draconian restrictions and becoming less likely to comply.
Lisa Wilkinson has expressed fears Sunday’s NRL Grand Final will see a massive spike in Sydney Covid cases with footy-mad fans ignoring lock down to gather in groups and watch the game. Pictured: The cheer squad of Grand Finalists the Penrith Panthers
The Project host called on Penrith Panthers and South Sydney Rabbitohs supporters still in the midst of intense stay-at-home orders, to take what happened in Victoria as a warning and to stay home for the big game. Pictured: South Sydney during their Preliminary final against Manly on September
‘When I heard this news today I thought of everyone in Victoria and what this huge exponential jump means for lockdowns, but also what it means for all the front-line workers,’ the Channel Ten star said.
‘You can only imagine their reaction today, knowing what’s to come – and people like the police and how they will have to continue to police this.
‘Everyone must be just absolutely exhausted and it’s also a harbinger of what could potentially happen this weekend with the NRL grand final.’
Victoria leapt from 950 Covid cases on Wednesday to a staggering 1,438 on Thursday.
Premier Andrews said initial interviews with contact tracers had proven many of the new cases were found in residents who had broken lockdown rules with ‘completely avoidable’ events.
Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said illegal home gatherings on the long weekend – coinciding with the blockbuster AFL Grand Final between the Melbourne Demon and the Western Bulldogs – had generated about 500 more cases than authorities had expected.
Lisa Wilkinson said: ‘You can only imagine their (front line workers’) reaction today, knowing what’s to come’
The announcement came amid warnings Victoria’s overcrowded hospitals are turning into ‘apocalyptic war zones’ as the Delta variant threatens to overwhelm its healthcare system.
An anonymous official said the state’s health watchdog Safer Care Victoria had urged the state government to brace for a Covid-related surge in its hospitals when lockdown measures are relaxed.
‘They basically told us to prepare psychologically because most of Victoria’s going to think ‘this is great’… as a healthcare worker, it’ll feel like a war zone,’ the official told The Age.
‘I just can’t fathom it. Some of the hospitals in Melbourne are already apocalyptic.’
Fellow host Peter Helliar described today’s skyrocketing numbers as ‘gut-wrenching’.
While ABC personality and former AFL star Tony Armstrong told the panel ‘it was like a punch in the guts down here.’
Sunday’s NRL Grand Final is set to take place in Brisbane (pictured) for the first time as Queensland remains under its own Covid cloud with six new locally-acquired infections on Thursday and four others on Wednesday
Waleed Aly told The Project panel (pictured) Melburnians are struggling to cope with the onerous lockdown measures
Waleed Aly said he fears ‘the genie may be out of the bottle’ when it comes to the willingness of Melburnians to keep following the public health orders.
The city has been under stay-at-home orders during the pandemic longer than any other place in the world with six gruelling periods of lockdown.
September has been marred with wild anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protests which have seen violent mobs clash with police on the streets of Melbourne’s CBD.
‘I reckon last week or the week before that, we reached a point where Melbourne finally broke and just couldn’t do it anymore,’ Aly said.
‘Can you fix that? Or is this a warning that this is just something people cannot cope with anymore.
‘We know we have to but it kind of feels like the genie is out of the bottle a little bit. People are broken.’
Premier Daniel Andrews said AFL Grand Final parties and barbecues are directly linked to the dramatic increase in Covid cases. Pictured: A Covid testing clinic in Melbourne’s Craigieburn on September 30
Sunday’s NRL Grand Final is set to take place in Brisbane for the first time as Queensland remains under its own Covid cloud.
There were six new locally-acquired infections on Thursday with four others on Wednesday.
A sell-out crowd of 50,000 spectators were expected to pack into Suncorp Stadium but that figure has now been revised down to 75 per cent capacity.
Should the outbreak worsen in the next 48-hours the match may be forced to move to another venue or even be postponed, with the NRL and Queensland government frantically examining their options.