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LOCKDOWN: FOUR CORNERS exposes how Australia became trapped by COVID-19

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For weeks, millions of Australians have been trapped by outbreaks of COVID-19 around the country with five states and the Northern Territory plunging into lockdown.

“The risk is real and we need to act quickly. We need to go hard, we need to go fast… I don’t want to see people end up in our hospitals on ventilators.”  Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

At a grim press conference in Sydney, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian bluntly told the nation that with case numbers on the rise, the threat of COVID-19 had reached an unprecedented level. 

“The situation that exists now…is regarded as a national emergency.”  NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian

Now, despite millions of people being told to stay at home, the number of infections is climbing with the virulent Delta strain.

“We should be very worried about Delta. Delta is many times more infectious than the original wild type of virus.  It is really easy to transmit, and it is slightly more problematic when it comes to people who’ve only had one dose of vaccine.”  Former Health Dept Secretary

This type of outbreak is exactly what the nation’s leading experts warned of when Four Corners reported on the failings in Australia’s vaccine rollout in May.

“It’s clear the virus hasn’t gone away. It will come back in this country and if we have really low levels of vaccination at that point in time, then the impact of that will be far greater than it would have been otherwise.”   Dr Paul Griffin, May 2021

Their warnings have become a grim reality.  On Monday Four Corners examines how Australia was left dangerously exposed.

“A leak from quarantine was probably inevitable. But the problems we’re having now all go back to the decisions that were made last year.”  Former Health Dept Secretary

As the program shows, the slow and sometimes faltering vaccine rollout has made the task of beating COVID-19 that much harder.

“We’re going to have to increase our supply and increase our injecting rate by a third, every day, seven days a week, until December 31.” Epidemiologist

For those struggling to get back on their feet after a horror 2020, there is frustration that they are facing even more pain.

“There is a high level of anxiety bordering on depression for many people, but the real frustration from the business community is around the lack of vaccination rollout right now. And we know that vaccinations are our only way of getting out of these lockdowns.”  Retail spokesperson

Experts warn that there will be more to come if the issues of supply and hesitancy aren’t overcome.

“The longer a variant spreads, the greater the risk of it learning mutations and changing, and becoming a super variant.”  Epidemiologist

Lockdown, reported by Adam Harvey, goes to air on Monday 2nd August at 8.30pm.

It is replayed on Tuesday 3rd August at 1.00pm and Wednesday 4th at 11.20pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.  

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