All I want for Christmas is for this to end

Ian Bushnell 23 December 2021 52
The queue at the Garran testing centre

The snaking queue at the Garran testing centre on Wednesday morning. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Our double-vaxxed daughter is flying into Canberra from Melbourne on Christmas morning. She will be wearing a mask when I pick her up.

Just when we thought at least this Christmas would be half-normal, Omicron has surfed across the world to become the dominant COVID-19 variant, and we’re all praying that it really is just like a cold, even though the jury is still out on that (depending on who you listen to).

That sinking feeling was like delayed shock. We didn’t really want to believe it, although Chief Minister Andrew Barr warned of variants out of Africa months ago when I asked him if he saw any end to the pandemic and its accompanying social restrictions.

We’ll be off to a Boxing Day movie, and now there will be a mask in the pocket and covering up will be a visceral reminder that the virus is still out there waiting for us.


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The Prime Minister says there will be no return to lockdowns or mask mandates, as if it’s up to him. But you can sense the panic as case numbers grow, even if the rise in hospital cases is slower than for Delta and its predecessors.

So much for the jabs. Omicron is a tricky bugger and can evade your vaccine defences. But don’t worry, a booster is all you need, except there are plenty who still have months to go before they are ready for a third shot.

Hell, in Israel they are on their fourth vaccination. And the question is, where does it all end? Boosting the boosters? What about more non-vaccine treatments?

Omicron seems to flourish in the respiratory tract but not so much in the lungs, which is a good thing, but it also means it is a lot more transmissible, and that can spell trouble because of the sheer volume of cases it can generate and the threat that poses to health systems.

Some warn it would be a mistake to assume that all viruses evolve into less dangerous versions of themselves, and that Omicron is unpredictable. Others say it can be managed and lived with, like other bugs.

So if we are not going back to lockdowns, there will still need to be public health measures until more is known.


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For some states, that will include imposing testing requirements on travellers, resulting in the frustrating queues at Canberra’s testing centres.

Whether a test 72 hours before you travel is meaningful is a good question.

It sucks. We’re all over it.

But we know what we have to do: wash our hands, wear the damn mask, check-in, get the booster (if available) and pray that Omicron is indeed just a sniffle that just needs a traditional hot lemon drink to ward off.

We don’t need federal-state squabbling, Scott Morrison positioning for an election instead of leading, and I’m-all-right-Jack protesters waving flags and conspiracy theories.

The speed of Omicron’s progress through the community means we should know soon enough what we’re up against, particularly with Christmas gatherings and the thousands of people travelling.


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The good news is that the wave in South Africa is subsiding as quickly as it rose, and hopefully, that can be expected here too.

But there will be more variants as the virus continues to circulate the world into the future, becoming another seasonal threat to negotiate.

Meanwhile, tomorrow is a day for putting aside our anxieties, enjoying the company of family and giving thanks for where we are blessed to live.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


What's Your Opinion?


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52 Responses to All I want for Christmas is for this to end
Malcolm Campbell Malcolm Campbell 8:57 am 27 Dec 21

To late now. Media are running the show now. Chief health officials want control back from state premiers. So another year will go by and we will all get our 3rd 4th and 5th booster shots and nothing will change. And no one has past away from omicron. 20 million Australians getting conned.

Lawrence Bowler Lawrence Bowler 2:59 pm 25 Dec 21

ruled by cones

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:12 pm 24 Dec 21

We’re closer to an end, of sorts, than to the beginning – thanks, as much as anything, to the brilliant science which has produced the vaccines we have access to in Australia, and which is now progressing well with developing treatments.

The real issue which has yet to be resolved, and is playing out right now – with all sorts of chaos and dysfunction resulting from it – is the abandonment of the unrealistic and unsustainable eradication/elimination strategy which is still (in spite of claims we’ve been in suppression mode for some time) at the heart of the public health response across the nation. If Omicron does anything good, it will be forcing public officials to face this reality – as seems to have been acknowledged today by the WA government.

Paul Waters Paul Waters 4:17 pm 24 Dec 21

unfortunately the pandemic is no where near over yet, every 100 year pandemics always last for a few years we are only in the 2nd year

Nick James Nick James 1:30 pm 24 Dec 21

9x less likely to require hospitalisation with Omicron. Still 100% in the interests of media companies to keep us glued to the nightly news in fear of the latest case numbers

    Maree Commens Maree Commens 3:02 pm 24 Dec 21

    Nick James while millions crowd at shopping centres etc - if it were deadly the deaths would be off the charts

James Ballard James Ballard 10:08 am 24 Dec 21

If you look at the photo, you'll see a nice shady area. Unfortunately the ACT health people are too stupid to shift the waiting area to that shady area. Instead, you're made to queue for hours in the sun.

Kerri Hallas Kerri Hallas 9:50 am 24 Dec 21

Don’t believe the hype

Ryan Hardy Ryan Hardy 9:27 am 24 Dec 21

Stop broadcasting the daily numbers creating panic and just focus on numbers in hospital

    Linda Stapleton Linda Stapleton 10:08 am 24 Dec 21

    Ryan Hardy you are welcome to stop reading them, hunting out the news stories that publish them..

    Paul Waters Paul Waters 4:19 pm 24 Dec 21

    Ryan Hardy without daily numbers we don't know what we are dealing with I'd rather know then not know!

Chris Goodrum Chris Goodrum 9:26 am 24 Dec 21

You and me both!

Kriso Hadskini Kriso Hadskini 8:36 am 24 Dec 21

It ends when there are no more people giving tough premiers and chief ministers high approval ratings. Very simple.

Shalini Nestor Shalini Nestor 8:31 am 24 Dec 21

It ends when there is vaccine equality across the globe. The WHO was correct that you cannot boost your way out of a pandemic, and the rich countries shouldn’t be hoarding vaccines.

    Simon Trommestad Simon Trommestad 9:56 am 24 Dec 21

    Shalini Nestor, the WHO also said vaccinated & recovered (from) Covid people are more likely to contract Omicron. Weird huh?

    Andrew Nelson Andrew Nelson 10:55 am 25 Dec 21

    Shalini “rich countries” < excludes Israel/Russia/China

    Adrian Markowski Adrian Markowski 6:27 pm 25 Dec 21

    Simon Trommestad yeah more likely to contract Omicron than Delta! Unvaccinated are more likely to catch both and more at risk of serious illness.

Maree Commens Maree Commens 8:23 am 24 Dec 21

It will not end until everybody says "no more". No more businesses and livelihoods destroyed, no more lives destroyed, no more people kept from their loved ones, no more empty promises of freedom if we do what we are told. It is simple - live every day as if it is your last - not in fear but in love and peace.

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 9:14 am 24 Dec 21

    Maree Commens Say "no more" what exactly?

    Hannah Zurcher Hannah Zurcher 9:15 am 24 Dec 21

    Lin Van Oevelen if you just tell the virus very firmly that you're sick of its nonsense, it'll stop. Simple biology.

    Linda Johnston Linda Johnston 9:15 am 24 Dec 21

    Maree Commens This attitude is what helps the virus to spread.

    Sophie Dale Sophie Dale 9:17 am 24 Dec 21

    Maree Commens Yeah…thats not how contagious diseases work. They don’t go away just because everyone is sick of it

    Shalini Nestor Shalini Nestor 9:18 am 24 Dec 21

    Hannah Zurcher and positive thinking

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 9:19 am 24 Dec 21

    Hannah Zurcher Threaten it with time out or no desert until it behaves itself.

    Amie Louise Amie Louise 9:23 am 24 Dec 21

    Linda Johnston I don’t think it will be suppressed either. How long will our/ our kids future be on hold for? Are we ok with having a third year of lockdowns and travel restrictions?

    Linda Stapleton Linda Stapleton 10:07 am 24 Dec 21

    Sophie Dale if you pardon the pun 😉

    Sher Bee Sher Bee 10:09 am 24 Dec 21

    Maree Commens could you send the virus a memo 📝

    Linda Johnston Linda Johnston 10:10 am 24 Dec 21

    No, we're not ok with more restrictions and lockdowns but I'm not ok with a free for all either.

    Lauren Andrea Lauren Andrea 10:21 am 24 Dec 21

    Maree Commens it’s not a loving act to recklessly endanger the lives of vulnerable and immunocompromised people.

    Wb Mozzy Wb Mozzy 10:32 am 24 Dec 21

    Maree Commens I agree entirely but I would add everyone get and maintain your vaccinations 😃👍

    Maree Commens Maree Commens 12:52 pm 24 Dec 21

    Sher Bee no worries - will make sure I am sitting down when I do -

    Maree Commens Maree Commens 12:53 pm 24 Dec 21

    Sophie Dale they don't go away when only wealthy countries are vaccinated either - it is a pandemic

    Sophie Dale Sophie Dale 12:53 pm 24 Dec 21

    Maree Commens Agreed! Vaccine distribution needs a massive overhaul

swaggieswaggie swaggieswaggie 7:38 am 24 Dec 21

Bushnell again demonstrating his ability to write a whole article of meaningless woffle with the seemingly compulsory and pointless dig at Morrison. Is there that big a shortage of article writers in Canberra that all RA can offer is this drivel?

    kenbehrens kenbehrens 10:33 am 24 Dec 21

    There was no reason to take a “jab” at Morrison in his article. Everyone with half a brain knows that it’s the States and Territories that mandate QR codes, masks and internal borders etc.
    ScoMo doesn’t make these decisions.
    If there was any political lunacy it was the NSW Premier’s decision to remove QR codes and masks, but some 5,000 cases later, he too has been forced to reintroduce them.

    One thing is for sure, yes we are all sick of it and sick of the politics of it.
    ScoMo does seem to be trying to get the States and Territories to agree on a common approach, but there are a couple of leaders with diametrically opposing views.

    JC JC 2:45 pm 24 Dec 21

    Think the jibe at Morrison is well justified. Whilst you are right he doesn’t have much to do masks, mandates etc he himself still sees the need to add his spin on things. So if good for him to do that good to take a swipe at him doing so which is what Ian was doing in this article.

Colin Mitchell Colin Mitchell 7:33 am 24 Dec 21

If this new COVID is so worrying can someone tell me what's happened to the last two variants because you don't hear about them any more and they were meant to be killers.

    Shalini Nestor Shalini Nestor 8:30 am 24 Dec 21

    Colin Mitchell it’s almost like we locked down and got vaccinated 🤔

    Colin Mitchell Colin Mitchell 8:54 am 24 Dec 21

    Shalini Nestor looks that way

    Val Kuta Val Kuta 8:56 am 24 Dec 21

    Colin Mitchell Sure can! It's killed 5.4 million people in 2 years.

    Linda Johnston Linda Johnston 9:15 am 24 Dec 21

    Colin Mitchell The other two variants are still about, but don't spread so rapidly amongst a vaccinated population. Omicron is different as it is far more easily transmitted whether you are vaccinated. Fortunately, it's seems to cause a milder form of the disease.

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 9:16 am 24 Dec 21

    Colin Mitchell Omicron outcompetes Delta because it's way more infectious. It's just a matter of maths. The same happened when Delta emerged.

    Colin Mitchell Colin Mitchell 9:30 am 24 Dec 21

    Lin Van Oevelen I thought it was the science not maths.

    Pam Gulliver Pam Gulliver 9:51 am 24 Dec 21

    Lin Van Oevelen get your facts CORRECT🙄

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 9:55 am 24 Dec 21

    These arguments are so convincing.

    But seriously, how did we allow our education system to fail that many people...

    Sher Bee Sher Bee 10:07 am 24 Dec 21

    Colin Mitchell welcome to the world, you must of been in a coma. FYI wear a mask 😷

    Jason Moore Jason Moore 10:51 am 24 Dec 21

    Colin Mitchell mathematics IS science

    Garvin Francis Garvin Francis 2:17 pm 24 Dec 21

    Colin Mitchell delta is still the highest contributor to hospital stays

    John McClane John McClane 2:54 pm 24 Dec 21

    Linda Johnston untrue, most of the cases currently are Delta, Delta is rampantly spreading like wildfire as vaccine efficacy is waning. Omicron is only a small % of cases at the moment, it is yet to become the dominant strain, that hasn’t happened yet.

    John McClane John McClane 2:55 pm 24 Dec 21

    Jason Moore statistically speaking

    Linda Johnston Linda Johnston 3:59 pm 24 Dec 21

    John McClane how about some facts https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2021/dec/23/australia-covid-news-victoria-nsw-sydney-masks-restrictions-perrottet-andrews-morrison-politics-corona-vaccine-mask-omicron-patients-doctors-hospital

Dave Wilkinson Dave Wilkinson 7:26 am 24 Dec 21

Well said...

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