Waleed Aly has questioned whether Gladys Berejiklian should plunge Sydney into a harder lockdown.
The Project panellists on Wednesday night discussed the NSW premier’s decision to extend restrictions in the city until July 16 as it battles a nightmare outbreak of the Indian Delta Covid strain.
Meanwhile, Strategic Health Consultant Bill Bowtell joined the debate to blast NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s suggestion Australia may need to learn to live with the virus, rather than pursuing a zero cases strategy.
The discussion came after Sydney recorded 27 new cases of the highly infectious Delta variant in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday, of which 14 were out in the community while infectious.
‘Now that you’re living through this lockdown, I’m going to make you speak for everyone in Sydney. Do you think Sydneysiders would like to see something stricter now?’ Waleed Aly asked fellow host Rachel Corbett.
The Project’s Waleed Aly (pictured) asked fellow host Rachel Corbett whether Sydney should have gone into a stricter lockdown earlier
Ms Corbett, who lives in Sydney, said the government should have imposed harsher restrictions sooner to combat the Covid outbreak
‘I can only speak for myself but I’ve always felt a bit on the wrong side of these people that are being spoken to,’ she responded.
‘I feel like we’re being treated like delicate flowers who couldn’t possibly deal with a lockdown when, in reality, we don’t want to go into a lockdown that continually gets extended because we’re hemming and hawing about where we should be.
‘I think everybody understands we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
‘If something is going wrong, shut us the hell down and get us back to normal as soon as you possibly can. I don’t think there’s anything unreasonable in that.
‘I’ve always been a bit surprised at this hesitation about being very black-and-white in Sydney, because I get there’s pushback, but you have to take the pushback to get a better result.’
Ms Corbett’s comments came after the show earlier welcomed Professor Bowtell to speak about the Covid situation in New South Wales.
The hosts brought up Minister Hazzard’s comments suggestion NSW may have to learn to live with the Delta strain if residents do not abide by health authorities stay-at-home orders.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard (pictured) said residents may have to live with the highly-infectious Indian Delta variant if they do not abide by lockdown measures
Professor Billy Bowtell (pictured) slammed Mr Hazzard for ‘threatening’ that authorities would allow Covid cases to spread throughout the community
‘At some stage, if individuals don’t hear Dr. Chant’s message, then at some point we’re going to move to a stage where we’re going to have to accept that the virus has a life which will continue in the community,’ Mr Hazard said.
Mr Bowtell blasted Mr Hazzard for making the ‘enormous threat’ that authorities would allow the virus to run free in the community.
‘What on earth would possess the Minister for Health to say such a thing, or give him the right to determine that, for the people of NSW,’ he said.
‘There are 30 or 40 people in hospital and some of those are in ICU and on ventilators. That’s what living with COVID does. That’s what taking your time to lock down does.
‘Is that the future, really, that we’re being threatened with?’
Professor Bowtell said both the federal and state government need to accept responsibility for the Covid outbreak in New South Wales.
‘[The NSW government is] very good at pointing the finger at everybody but themselves,’ he said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian extended Sydney’s lockdown (pictured) on Wednesday after 27 new Covid cases were reported
‘Now, the responsibilities are clear. NSW ran a very lax quarantine system at Sydney Airport.
‘And, of course, the other responsibility has to be (directed) to the Australian government, who declined a year ago to order the vaccines that, if we had them at the beginning of this year, we would be 70 per cent or 80 per cent fully vaccinated by now, and then we’d be dealing with a very different situation in Sydney.’
New South Wales now has 357 locally acquired cases of Covid-19 since June 16 when the first case of the Bondi cluster – an airport limo driver – was reported.
In light of the 27 new cases on Wednesday, Ms Berejiklian announced the lockdown for Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Blue Mountains and the Central Coast will now end at midnight on July 16, rather than Friday.
‘This decision wasn’t taken lightly,’ she told reporters.
‘This Delta strain is a game-changer – it is extremely transmissible and more contagious than any other form of the virus that we’ve seen.’
‘The reason why the NSW government has taken this position is because we don’t want to be in a situation where we are constantly having to move between lockdown, no lockdown, lockdown, no lockdown.
‘That is not a way to live and we want to give our citizens the best chance of staying safe and healthy but also making sure our businesses survive and thrive moving forward until the vaccination period is upon us.’
Ms Berejiklian said the decision ‘wasn’t taken lightly’ and came after 14 of the new cases were in the community while infectious. Pictured: A man crosses the road at Milson’s Point, during lockdown in Sydney on Wednesday