The other pandemic gripping Australia
Forget the coronavirus - there's another far more insidious pandemic that has emerged from the darkness and taken a swift grip on Australia.
It began festering in Victoria - namely Melbourne - several weeks ago but is rapidly spreading throughout the rest of the country, with recent examples of infection in Sydney and Brisbane.
No community is safe. No public health measure seems robust enough to slow the spread. We are all at risk.
It's a pandemic of stupid.
Common sense, reason, and a belief in what's best for all of us, not just individual whims and wants, have been strangled by this relentless illness.
Border jumpers. Anti-maskers and sovereign citizens. The ignorant and the uninformed. The misinformed. The selfish. The deeply complacent.
There are multiple components to the make-up of this virus.
Each on their own is dangerous enough in the right environment, but when combined, the risk posed to society is immense.
Some commentators have slammed the Victorian Government's new stage 4 lockdown restrictions as draconian and a dramatic overstep.
A deluge of social media comments have compared police to the Gestapo for enforcing the rules. Drama-loving and attention-seeking loons have filmed themselves in open defiance of the liberty thieving restrictions and gleefully shared their exploits with the world.
They argue that people are being treated as though they're children and can't be trusted. We're sheep.
Instead of explaining the dangers of running with sharp objects, authorities are giving us useless plastic safety scissors that don't cut even the thinnest of pieces of paper.
Except, they did tell us about the danger. They implored us to take each stage of restrictions seriously.
We were asked not to gather in non-essential circumstances, but some of us ignored them and went to the beach in the hundreds, congregating on top of each other just because the sun was out.
We were asked to keep our distance when going to work, but many of us ignored the signs about where to sit on the train, how far to stand apart, to keep left on stairs.
We were urged to isolate after being tested, but more than a few of us went out for coffee, bar-hopped or went to work.
We were told that if feeling even slightly unwell, to take it seriously and go to the doctor or a pop-up testing clinic, but instead a few of us held dinner parties and shared COVID-19 with friends and family.
Some of us organised mass protests, for worthy causes as well as to screech about the invisible Illuminati-devised evil of 5G or vaccination, despite pleas from doctors and even some of those who support our aims, undermining the collective spirit of compliance that had been so carefully built.
When tougher rules inevitably came in, some of us ignored those too.
A few snuck across closed borders in the boots of cars, several lied on declaration forms after coming from a declared hotspot, one pretended to be someone else to dodge the obligations that we all must share.
Dozens of us threw house parties and a few holidayed in vulnerable regional communities that were off-limits. Some of us snuck out after curfew to get a sausage roll or do a Macca's run a hundred-odd kilometres from home.
Several hundred of us infected with COVID-19 weren't home when authorities came knocking to ensure we were isolating.
We're assured the majority of people are doing the right thing, and the optimistic part of ourselves hopes that it's true, but you don't need to look far to see people's complacency, selfishness or stupidity at work.
A person feeling ill in Sydney spent a very busy few days going from venue to venue before finally testing positive for coronavirus.
Three women allegedly went to great lengths to hide the fact they had been in Melbourne and, while ill, gallivanted through Brisbane's restaurants and bars and worked, including after being tested.
A woman crossing the Queensland border allegedly lied about doing essential work. Another allegedly flouting the rules in the Sunshine State was a doctor.
Even many of the 'well' among us - who knows, given a huge proportion of those infected show no symptoms - can't seem to be bothered observing the most basic of requests to socially distance. Just take public transport in Sydney.
In normal times, some people shake their fists about the 'Nanny State' in Australia - over-regulation of everyday life that strangles freedom.
If the past several months has taught us anything, it's that people who behave like unruly children deserve to be treated as such.
Not just for their own good, but for ours too.
In the most significant economic, social and health crisis that most of us will ever face, God willing, too many have let the whole team down.
The sad truth is that those who can least afford to - the elderly, the ill and the vulnerable - will end up paying the price.
Originally published as The other pandemic gripping Australia